Portman, Levin Press OMB Director to Support Drug-Free Communities Funding, Reverse Proposed Cuts

May 9, 2017 Issues: Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Representative Sander Levin (D-MI), the original authors of the Drug-Free Communities Act signed into law in 1997, today sent a letter to Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney expressing their concern over OMB’s proposal to cut all funding to the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) program. Portman and Levin designed this program to be optimally effective and accountable by capping the amount spent on administrative and overhead expenses, requiring all coalitions that receive grants to have experience in drug abuse prevention, as well as matching federal funding with dollar-for-dollar local funds. No other drug prevention program has achieved the same reductions in youth drug use that have been achieved consistently by the DFC program. This program is working well at a time when America desperately needs more drug abuse prevention and education.

“The Drug-Free Communities program is a proven, evidence-based, and accountable program that reduces substance abuse among youths,” Senator Portman and Representative Levin wrote in the letter. “The opioid epidemic is a serious problem that affects millions of young people and their families.  We urge you to put their interest first, and fully fund the program for FY 2018.”

The text of the letter follows and a link can be found here:

Dear Director Mulvaney:

As the original authors who created the Drug-Free Communities program in 1997, we are deeply troubled by the Administration's proposal to cut all funding for the program in FY 2018.  Amidst the most severe opioid epidemic in decades, it is reckless and senseless to eliminate an effective, evidence-based, community-oriented drug prevention program.

In March, over 100 bipartisan Members of Congress in the House, representing over 70 million Americans urged appropriators to fully fund the Drug-Free Communities program for FY 2018.  The Senate is currently circulating a similar letter that enjoys wide bipartisan support year-after-year.  Based on evidence and research, we know that DFC coalitions work effectively to reduce substance abuse in youths in over 600 communities across the nation, and has provided support to 4.4 million middle school and 6.3 million high school students since inception.

We support funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy as a whole, but want to highlight specifically the positive success we’ve seen from the Drug-Free Communities Act.  The Drug-Free Community coalitions are deeply rooted in local communities.  Each coalition engages twelve sectors who are key local stakeholders, including local law enforcement, faith-based organizations, schools, healthcare professionals, parents, students, and volunteer groups who are committed to their communities.  This emphasis allows DFC coalitions to respond at the local level to different emerging drug trends such as heroin, meth, K2, spice, and other synthetic drugs.  Independent research confirms that in communities with DFC coalitions, past 30-day use of alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs have declined by 32 percent, 38 percent, and 21 percent, respectively.  That is why so many bipartisan members of Congress support Drug-Free Communities.

The Drug-Free Communities program is designed to be accountable.  By law, there is a cap on the amount of money that can be spent on administrative and overhead expenses, which ensures that the maximum amount of funding goes to DFC coalitions who have the power to reduce youth substance use in their own communities. Coalitions are required to be in existence and fully functioning for a minimum of six months before they are eligible to apply.  They must also have baseline data to show that they have full knowledge of local drug issues, as well as matching federal funding with dollar-for-dollar local funds.  Finally, the coalitions are required to go through a year-long training academy to make sure they have the skills necessary to not only effectively reduce their youth drug use rates, but also to plan, implement, and evaluate their efforts so they can achieve results.  We specifically included these strict accountability provisions in the law to ensure the highest levels of local support in solving substance abuse crisis each community faces.

The Drug-Free Communities program is a proven, evidence-based, and accountable program that reduces substance abuse among youths.  The opioid epidemic is a serious problem that affects millions of young people and their families.  We urge you to put their interest first, and fully fund the program for FY 2018.

 

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