Communities That Care

What is Communities That Care?

Communities That Care (CTC) is an "operating system" that takes communities through a well-defined and structured process to prevent adolescent problem behaviors and promote positive youth development. CTC communities form a broad-based coalition and then collect local data on risk and protective factors shown by research to be associated with delinquency, violence, substance use, and school failure and dropout. After collecting this data the communities identifies 3-5 specific risk and protective factors to focus on, and then seeks evidence-based programs and strategies to address those priorities. After 2-3 years of implementing these strategies, the community re-assesses their risk and protective factors to measure impact and identify new emerging priorities.

The PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) has supported CTC for over a decade, have trained over 100 communities in the model. There are currently more than 60 active CTC coalitions across the Commonwealth. Research studies both in Pennsylvania and nationally have demonstrated CTC is effectively creating population-level public health improvement, reducing delinquency and youth drug use, and improving academic achievement for youth in these communities.

Recent Research Reinforces the Benefits of CTC

A recent study conducted by scientists at Penn State's Edna Bennet Pierce Prevention Research Center shows that the Communities That Care public health approach to prevention in Pennsylvania continues to pay off in decreased problem behaviors for communities that have adopted this model. 

Chilenski, S. M., Frank, J., Summers, N., & Lew, D. (2019). Public Health Benefits 16 Years After a Statewide Policy Change: Communities That Care in Pennsylvania. Prevention Science, 1-12.

CTC Development and History

The Communities That Care (CTC) model was originally developed by Drs. David Hawkins and Richard Catalano of the University of Washington. It was based on the aggregate review of decades of etiological research aimed at identifying specific factors that were associated with either promoting or preventing adolescent problem behaviors (delinquency, substance use, violence, school failure, and teen pregnancy and high-risk sexual behavior).

Looking across many large studies, Hawkins and Catalano developed a matrix of risk factors and their associated problem behaviors. This was the beginning of the application of a risk-focused public health approach to prevention and positive youth development.