Community Connections is the primary prevention/education provider for Gateway and is committed to providing quality prevention services to enable individuals and families to cope with external stresses that interfere with effective functioning. Through skill building, education, and advocacy, community based prevention focuses on pro-active programming and early intervention to address family issues. The programs offered focus on the following services: substance abuse prevention, violence prevention and parenting.
While services are provided to children as young as 5 years old, the majority of the clients participating in the substance abuse and violence prevention programs are between the ages of 6 and 18; and the majority of adults participating in the family/parenting programs are between the ages of 20 and 40. Services are available to persons without regard to race, creed, handicap, national origin, language preference, sex, social status, ethnic background, and religion. Additionally, these services are offered in collaboration with community organizations such as schools. Due to funding restrictions, many of the programs are limited to residents of Jefferson County.
To fund their services, Community Connections relies on United Way funding, grants, and donations.
Substance abuse prevention programs
Substance abuse programs target children and youth ages 6-18 that reside in substance abusing families that are economically disadvantaged, have limited family involvement, low self-esteem and high levels of family conflict.
Community Connections closely collaborates with local schools, churches, after-school programs and other agencies to facilitate these programs, which are provided in schools, after-school programs, and summer camps if Jefferson County. The programs are facilitated in group formats and address topics such as identifying supportive people in their lives, coping skills, dangers of substance use, decision making skills, stress management, improving social functioning, and communication skills. Other topics are addressed by special request based on the needs to the participants.
School counselors, teachers, other school personnel, and parents identify and refer youth to participate in the program, and the program facilitator confirms eligibility. The evidence based curricula Too Good For Drugs and Life Skills provide the content and processes.
Each group meets for approximately one hour in each of 10 sessions. The groups are interactive and encourage participants to share their own experiences, learn new skills, develop healthy peer relationships, and improve family interactions.
Funding for this program is primarily through the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
Violence prevention programs
Breaking the Cycle of Violence
The Breaking the Cycle of Violence program consists of a menu of related programs to address anger management, decision making, and dating violence. The anger management and decision making program uses the evidence bases curricula Too Good for Violence and Too Good for Violence. It targets middle school and high school students in public schools, teaching youth to recognize patterns of violence and abuse, increase anger management skills, use nonviolent methods to cope with stress, and build positive relationships. Youth targeted by this program have a history of aggressive behaviors, reside in families with issues of domestic violence, and have poor coping skills, gang involvement, and low family attachment.
The dating violence component addresses violence and abuse in dating relationships. This program is valuable for all adolescents beginning and learning about dating relationships. It is based on the evidence based curriculum Safe Dates. This curriculum addresses dating abuse with the goals of raising awareness of what constitutes healthy relationships, awareness of dating abuse and its causes and consequences, equipping students with skills and resources to help themselves and their friends in abusing relationships, and equipping them with skills for healthy relationships.
The Breaking the Cycle of Violence is provided to youth ages 12-18 in Jefferson County. Each program consists of a 10 week class meeting for approximately one hour for each session. Classes are interactive and incorporate role-plays and group discussions. Participants are encouraged to share their own experiences, learn new skills, develop healthy peer relationships, and improve family interactions.
This program is funded by various private foundations as listed on this page.
The Community Connections staff is available to present information on substance abuse, violence prevention, parenting skills, and coping skills. These are typically one time presentations and are offered to interested community groups.
Community Connections is funded solely through grants and donations and wishes to thank the following organizations for their support:
ADECA-Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs
Alabama Department of Mental Health
Alabama Department of Public Health
Hill Crest Foundation
Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation
Publix Super Market Charities
Susan Mott Webb Foundation
The Caring Foundation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield
United Way of Central Alabama