2003 Statewide Comprehensive Prevention Plan

prepared by the State Prevention Council

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In the ideal world, prevention spending would dwarf crisis or treatment spending, its programs would be at full scale to realize true impact and benefit, and all associated cost savings would be realized in short order and available to manage the other priorities of government, or, better yet, allow for popular tax cuts. Yet, the wisdom and benefit of prevention work has historically had a way of being swallowed up by some of the realities of politics, budgeting and governing, and not taking its rightful place on the public agenda.

The challenges and obstacles to achieving the optimum set of public investments are legion, and include: longer-term strategies often give way to more immediate needs; "cost savings" are intuitively understood, but often are not tangibly realized within short budget cycles; there is constant pressure to address the presence of crisis; and that traditionally the focus on prevention has been on the funding of independent programs, rather than on systems and strategies, that is viewing prevention work as a single, coordinated enterprise.

Despite these conditions, prevention activity is a worthy strand of business historically employed by government at all levels, and by an active local network of providers. Moreover, even though its relative investment lacks proportionality, prevention works - every day - to the betterment of the lives of individuals and of the communities in which they live. And, most agree that prevention work holds great promise, and that in its essence, it uses common sense and appeals to one's basic instincts by asserting that pain and suffering are better off averted, rather than managed. This leaves the question: "How can prevention strategies play a greater role in contributing to making services more cost-effective and of higher quality?".

Several steps are necessary to promote systemic and broad-reaching change in the existing statewide prevention framework so that this work will not only reach its full potential, but assure that the State's activities are congruent with relevant goals presently implemented by State agencies, existing legislation, current research, sentiments of community providers, and public opinion. This has required, and will continue to require, managing change across disciplines, agencies, and communities, and utilizing well-defined, incremental approaches focused on a common vision of prevention.

The good news is that as the landscape of family and community life change rapidly, and concerns about children and youth dominate key policy debates, broad interest in promoting well-being and preventing harmful behavior, especially with kids and young adults, is emerging and solidifying. In Connecticut the environment for change is ripe, and there is a heightened awareness of, and enthusiasm for, new opportunities in directing State prevention programming. Also encouraging is that institutions, just as individuals, have also responded to the common sense and instinctive appeal associated with prevention work.

This emerging enthusiasm is evidenced by the increased availability and translation of promising research to the benefit of State and local programming, through several high profile, targeted State initiatives that embrace prevention as the preferred strategic approach, and by the expressed support and encouragement from State elected and appointed officials, key legislative leaders of the General Assembly, and State agency Commissioners.

But, perhaps the most critical initiative, certainly the one with the broadest potential impact, is the passage of Public Act 01-121, AN ACT CONCERNING CRIME PREVENTION AND A STATE PREVENTION COUNCIL. Adopted unanimously and signed into law by the Governor, this Public Act established the State Prevention Council comprised of 8 key State agencies, and charged the group to develop a prevention budget and an overall State plan for prevention. This act was the culmination of efforts by so many passionate leaders in this field, and in recognition of the already growing presence of prevention approaches in State policy and practice.

The Council understood that there were several issues that were to be critical to its success, but more importantly to the success of advancing prevention work overall. These guideposts have been at the center of the Council's decision-making and reflect thought around both "what is" and "what ought to be". They include:

1) Must develop a focus and a well-defined scope of work with an eye towards manageable tasks; 

2) Any new efforts must be coordinated with, and informed by, existing efforts, studies and programming including those external to State government; 

3) Mobilizing prevention work will take time and that achieving measurable results will take even longer; 

4) Overall success cannot be measured solely by how many more dollars prevention secures, but by how much current and expanded funding is used to better inform public and to better serve the public.; 

5) Prevention is the least intrusive of strategies in the midst of all efforts to protect and preserve citizens' welfare and well-being (e.g. efforts such as Alternative Sanctions in the Judicial Branch which attempt to avoid the most intensive approaches to crises).

This report is a product of the Council, and represents the latest stage in the development of a response to stretching the existing boundaries of prevention, and paving a way to the ideal world referenced above. Just as with the enabling legislation, this report is also the culmination of the work of many passionate leaders in this field, and most especially key agency staff people in OPM, and all participating agencies, whose insight and dedication brought great depth and understanding to this subject matter. It is trusted, on behalf of all who have contributed, that this report will be received by all in the same spirit with which it is delivered: prevention work brings out the best in, and makes the most of, people, communities and government.


  1. Increase the Awareness of the Value of Prevention
  2. Strengthen State and Local Networks' Involvement in Prevention
  3. Improve Data Collection on Prevention Programs to Enhance System Measurement Capabilities
  4. Share and Implement Best Practices through Effective Prevention Programs

For more information:

Contact: Pamela Trotman
E-mail pamela.trotman@ct.gov
Phone (860) 418-6359