In May 2005, the Coalition was convened by Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, in order to address a rise in alcohol and other drug related school suspensions, arrests and traffic deaths among our youth. Additionally, statistics from the CA Healthy Kids Surveys dating from 1998 to 2004, clearly showed an alarming trend that Valley children were starting to abuse harmful substances at an earlier age and much more frequently than in previous years, especially when compared to other Santa Barbara County and state-wide schools.
In August of 2007, the Santa Ynez Valley Youth Coalition(Coalition) was awarded a Federal Drug Free Communities 5 year grant that launched a sustainable community-wide effort in preventing youth substance abuse, by working together to create a healthier community environment where youth can thrive, drug free.
In September of 2012, due to the success rate in prevention, the Coalition was again awarded another 5 year Federal Drug Free Communities grant to continue it’s prevention work and expand it’s efforts to protect our youth from drug abuse. The Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act) grant was also awarded to the Coalition in 2012, to focus on underage drinking and collaboration among Federal, State, County and local governments. This grant period was offered for four years.
In October 2017, the Federal grants were completed. The Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness Department awarded a highly competitive three year Coalition grant to the youth Coalition to continue it’s critical work in youth substance abuse prevention and included adult excessive drinking and Opioid use.
Through the Years, the Santa Ynez Valley Youth Coalition continues to have a measurable impact on the health of our youth and community by employing strategies that are research based and proven effective. Implementation of these prevention strategies has helped to reduce the availability of alcohol and other drugs and has changed community policies and norms around the acceptability of use. The most recent CA Healthy Kids Survey results for Valley children, grades 7th – 12th, show significant reductions in the areas of binge drinking and drunk driving as well as past 30 day use of alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes.