CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a five-year, $10 million grant from the federal government to bolster the state’s alcohol prevention efforts. The funds will be distributed by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), to 18 organizations across the state for programs created to reduce risky use of alcohol, underage and childhood drinking, binge drinking, and deaths from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes.
“Too many lives are lost or damaged by underage drinking and alcohol abuse,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We need to reach out to children and families and make sure they understand the dangers and consequences that come with abusing alcohol. This grant will help encourage individuals, families, and communities to work together to address the problem.”
In Illinois, more than half of 12th grade students report drinking alcohol in the past month, and 35 percent report binge drinking in the past two weeks (2006, Illinois Youth Survey). Alcohol use by youth can lead to traffic crashes, violence, suicide, sexual assault, unwanted pregnancies, and school failure. Those who start drinking in early adolescence are at increased risk for sustaining brain damage and of becoming dependent on alcohol.
More than 10 percent of youth in grades 8 – 12 have been drunk at school in the past year and 25 percent say they have ridden in a car driven by a drunk driver at least once in the past year.
“Underage drinking is a serious concern in Illinois and this grant will give us an opportunity to create effective prevention strategies,” said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. “These selected communities, will develop community partnerships to address the negative consequences associated with underage and binge drinking, as well as drinking and driving.”
Illinois was awarded the five-year grant from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention to plan and deliver a statewide strategic plan for substance abuse prevention. The goal of the grant is to deter initiation and reduce drinking behaviors through a partnership between the State of Illinois and communities.
In order to achieve the goal, the grantees will use local data to start community process for planning and delivering effective strategies for reducing risky alcohol use. The framework consists of five core areas: assessing the community’s needs and identifying its resources; mobilizing the community to address identified needs; developing a strategic plan; implementing successful programs, policies, and practices; and evaluation.
This project is one of several coordinated efforts to reduce risky alcohol use. Gov. Blagojevich also signed a law today to prevent the advertisement or promotion of flavored alcoholic beverages, or ‘alcopops’, to children. ‘Alcopops’ are alcoholic beverages that are blended with fruit juice, lemonade or other flavorings. The legislation imposes fines on companies that promote ‘alcopops’ to minors.
In 2006, the Governor’s Alcohol Abuse Task Force brought several state agencies together, with industry and interest groups to better coordinate alcohol prevention efforts. The task force was formed to educate citizens about the prevention and treatment resources available throughout the state to help combat alcohol abuse.
In March of 2006, IDHS coordinated town meetings on alcohol around the State. The meetings provided an important opportunity for communities to come together to learn more about underage drinking and its impact, and to discuss how their community can best prevent underage alcohol use.
Below is a list of the 18 communities that will receive funding:
- ABJ Community Services, Inc. Chicago - South Shore Community;
- Adams County Health Department - Adams County;
- Asian Health Coalition of Illinois, Chicago - Albany Park, Uptown, Armour Square, and Bridgeport communities;
- Chestnut Health Systems, Cities of Bloomington – Normal;
- Healthcare Alternative Systems, Inc. - Chicago - Back of Yards community;
- Human Resource Development Institute, Inc. Chicago - Roseland community and Altgeld Gardens Housing Projects;
- Jefferson County Board, Jefferson County - village of Bluford, city of Mt. Vernon, village of Waltonville, & village of Woodlawn communities;
- LePenseur Youth and Family Services, Inc. - village of Dolton;
- Maine Community Youth Assistance Foundation - Maine Township, cities of DesPlaines and Park Ridge;
- Martin Luther King Jr. Services of Illinois Boys & Girls Club - city of Freeport;
- The Miracle Center at the Gap Center, Chicago – Hermosa community;
- NICASA - city of Mundelein;
- Prevention Partnership, Inc., Chicago - Austin community;
- City of Rockford Human Services Dept. Drug Free Rockford - Various communities in Rockford;
- Sinnissippi Centers, Inc. - Carroll County;
- Tazewell County Health Department - Tazewell County;
- Woodford County Health Department - Woodford County;
- Unity Parenting & Counseling Inc., Chicago, addressing homeless youth in Humboldt Park, Chatham, and Woodlawn.