From 1994 to 2000, Audubon Area Community Services in Owensboro, Ky., planned and implemented a Free to Grow model that reduced risks for substance abuse by combining grassroots community action with intensive case management for high-risk families.
The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Free To Grow: Head Start Partnerships to Promote Substance-Free Communities national program.
When Free to Grow was fully implemented, Head Start family advocates provided case management services to 629 families per year in Owensboro and the two rural counties (100 percent of the Head Start caseload).
Through its Free to Grow activities, Audubon developed a family assessment tool, called the Family Partnership Plan, that is now used throughout the agency.
Some 40 to 50 percent of Head Start families participated in parent training and periodic family enrichment activities that complemented case management services.
Free to Grow engaged a significant percentage of Head Start and community residents in its community education and activities, which were aimed at entire neighborhoods.
Approximately 130 parents and residents completed a 30-hour leadership-training curriculum that provided applied training on community organizing and substance abuse prevention.