Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program Recognized at 2012 SAAS Conference/NIATx Summit

Submitted by: 07/13/2012 by Maureen Fitzgerald

Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program (YUMADAOP) is one of 12 programs that Ohio established in 1979 through the efforts of House Majority Leader William Mallory to address alcohol and other drug abuse prevention among the state’s African-American and Latino populations because these groups were not accessing services, or remiaing in services once engaged.  These programs, known as  “UMADAOPs,” prove culturally appropriate prevention, treatment, and outreach services. 

The Youngstown program receives funding from city and county agencies as well as the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS). Working in partnership with the school district, YUMADAOP’s prevention specialists deliver programs in classrooms throughout the school year, working with groups of students. They also offer a summer mentoring program. Their programs cover alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention programs, as well as violence and pregnancy prevention.

Executive Director Darryl Alexander has been with YUMADAOP since 1989.  After attending a NIATx training in 2009, Alexander and his team used the NIATx approach to solve a scheduling problem almost on the spot. Since then, Alexander has become a champion for process improvement in prevention programs. He’s presented on that topic at several state meetings.

Through a pilot project sponsored by ODADAS in spring 2010, the Youngstown UMADAOP applied the NIATx approach to transform its culture. The result?  Improved staff morale, better relationships with the local school district and other partners, and an increase in volunteer activity. YUMADAOP’s change projects also helped the agency identify new ways to market its services, decrease costs, and increase revenue. As the first prevention site in Ohio to pilot the NIATx model, YUMADAOP contributed to the development of improvement aims that other prevention programs could target:

  • Increase capacity for services and programming
  • Increase the used of evidence-based policies, programs, practices, and strategies
  • Increase performance management
  • Increase staff retention 

This innovation was recognized with an iAward Honorable Mention at the 2012 SAAS National Conference and NIATx Summit.  Alexander attended the conference to accept the award.  “It was great not only for YUMADAOP to be recognized, but also to put the spotlight on prevention programs,” says Alexander, noting that numerous research studies document the effectiveness of prevention programs.  

YUMADAOP’s current process improvement project is testing ways that the agency staff can use technology to balance their prevention work with the associated administrative tasks.  “Our prevention specialists are out of the office four days a week, working in the schools. We’ve been reserving Fridays for them to work in the office on outcome reporting and data entry. This change project will see if it’s feasible for them to complete some of that work when they’re in the field, using laptops.” The change team hopes that this will reduce the pressure to complete the administrative tasks and other competing requirements in one workday.

Alexander is also planning a change project for the coming fall semester. “We’ll invite educators to join this change team, with a focus on making improvements to our programming,” explains Alexander.

Reflecting on how the NIATx approach has changed his organization’s culture, Alexander says one of the greatest benefits has been in empowering staff to make changes and improve processes with the schools.   “If there’s any issue we need to tackle, we use NIATx,” he says. 

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