Dane County Announces New Efforts to Confront Alcohol Abuse in New Year
January 13, 2011
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
Work to be Done in More Middle Schools, New Coordinators Named for County Coalition to Reduce Alcohol Abuse
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today work she’s leading to reduce the harms of alcohol abuse among middle school students will expand into more Dane County schools in 2011.
The county is contracting with Catholic Charities to continue and expand upon work Falk started in 2008 to help counsel and treat middle school students who abuse alcohol. That initial work was a pilot project in two local middle schools but under this new contract, several schools including Badger Ridge Middle School in Verona, Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie, Cherokee, Spring Harbor, Whitehorse, Wright, Sennett and Toki in Madison and Sauk Prairie Middle School will be eligible to take part.
“Past surveys taken of Dane County 7th and 8th graders show a startling number of them drink alcohol,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said. “It’s no surprise that research shows intervening with kids early on greatly reduces their risk of harmful drinking in high school, college, and later in life. It’s important to prevent young people from ending up on the slippery slope of alcohol abuse that leads to unemployment, trouble at home, and even criminal behavior.”
Dane County’s contract with Catholic Charities to help middle school students during this spring semester is $21,861.
Catholic Charities is the same organization that spearheads the innovative Dane County “Pathfinders” program that Falk pioneered in 2005 to aggressively treat and rehabilitate repeat drunk drivers and help prevent them from re-offending. To date, that program has had a better than 70% success rate.
Falk today also named new coordinators for the very successful Dane County Coalition to Reduce Alcohol Abuse after the group’s co-directors Carol Lobes and Judy Adrian retired from their work at the end of 2010.
SmokeFree Wisconsin, the organization that succeeded with its efforts to implement an indoor smoke-free law statewide, will spearhead the Dane County Coalition to Reduce Alcohol Abuse that Falk created in 2008. SmokeFree is broadening its advocacy work to additional health and safety priorities, including reducing alcohol abuse. The group will have a new name in the near future to reflect those expanded efforts.
“Treating and responding to alcohol abuse in Dane County involves a tremendous investment of financial and human resources and we would like to see those costs reduced,” new coalition director Maureen Busalacchi said. “We are excited to work with the community to prevent risky alcohol behavior and create an environment for safe alcohol consumption.”
“Under Carol and Judy’s leadership, our county coalition grew to some 400 members strong, representing a diverse cross-section of our county including business, religious, education, health, and public safety leaders,” Falk said. “Our new coalition leaders will continue the group’s work to raise awareness of the countless harms that alcohol abuse causes communities, families, and schools.”
Dane County’s contract to run the Coalition to Reduce Alcohol Abuse is $45,000 in 2011.