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Pilot Project Helps YouthBuild Address Youth Substance Abuse

One of the biggest challenges at most YouthBuild employment and training programs funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is how to identify and address alcohol and drug use among students. Substance abuse is one of the main reasons for youth dropping out of the training program and it interferes with a young person’s ability to obtain employment after completing training.  YouthBuild USA, as the technical assistance contractor for DOL, is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to administer a pilot project to the YouthBuild field with the following objectives:

  • To train staff at selected YouthBuild programs to develop appropriate policies regarding the identification of and intervention with YouthBuild students who use drugs and/or alcohol;
  • To provide opportunities for program staff to learn about strategies and interventions that they can use within the program;
  • To guide programs to develop an evidence-based screening and brief intervention model to be implemented appropriately within their YouthBuild program; and
  • To capture and analyze the lessons learned and success of each program participating in the pilot and develop these lessons into tools for distribution to the broader YouthBuild field.

The screening tool utilized was developed by SAMHSA to identify people who have or are at risk for substance use problems and to identify people who need further assessment or referral for treatment. The “SBIRT” (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) core components are:

Screening: Identification of substance related problems
Brief Intervention: Raise awareness of risks and motivate an individual toward acknowledgement of any issues
Brief Treatment: Cognitive behavioral work with youth who acknowledge risk and seek help
Referral to Treatment: Referral of those young people with more serious substance abuse issues.

The SBIRT tool was originally designed for health-related settings, but has been adapted to best suit the young people, ages 16-24, served within the YouthBuild program.

Fifteen YouthBuild programs across the country have been chosen for participation in this pilot. Selection criteria included 1) programs that expressed an unreserved interest to participate; 2) a demonstrated need, and indications of the struggle with the impact of substance use/abuse on post program placement retention and program retention; and 3) programs that have a student enrollment of 30 or greater. 

The following YouthBuild programs will participate in this initial pilot:

  1. HoustonWorks, TX
  2. Education Services District 101, Spokane, WA
  3. La Fe Community Development Center, El Paso, TX
  4. Century Center for Economic Opportunity, Lennox, CA
  5. Comprehensive Community Solutions, Rockford, IL
  6. Workforce Connections, La Crosse, WI
  7. YMCA Old Colony Brockton, MA
  8. Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington WDB, Pewaukee, WI
  9. Alachua-Florida Institute for Workforce Innovation, Melrose, FL
  10. Sacramento Local Conservation Corps, CA
  11. Prevention Plus, Inc., Forest Park, GA  
  12. Chicago Southland, OAI, Harvey, IL
  13. WorkNet Pinellas, Inc. Clearwater, FL
  14. Lummi Housing Authority, Bellingham, WA
  15. Tohatchi Area of Opportunity & Services, Tohatchi, NM

DOL is conducting this pilot with the goal that the information generated will benefit all YouthBuild programs, and that ultimately SBIRT can be adapted by all YouthBuild programs.  This pilot will be conducted over the next year, at which time it will be evaluated to determine the impact the SBIRT Tool has had on these 15 programs.

Should you have additional questions, please contact:

Toni Wilson, Workforce Development Specialist
Division of Youth Services
Employment and Training Administration
Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20210
(202) 693-2922
wilson.toni@dol.gov