New Reports Highlight the EPISCenter as a Model for Promoting Child Well-being and Supporting Effective Youth Drug Prevention

The Evidence-based Prevention and Intervention Support Center (EPISCenter), a project of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, is highlighted as an exemplary model in two separate reports released recently by the Trust of America’s Health. 

A Healthy Early Childhood Action Plan: Policies for A Lifetime of Well-beingThe first report, A Healthy Early Childhood Action Plan: Policies for a Lifetime of Well-being, recommends increased investments in core, effective early childhood policies and programs, by:

  • Making programs and services that promote early childhood well-being a higher priority to ensure they can be delivered on a scale to help all families (ranging from home visiting programs to child welfare services to increasing economic opportunity for families to child care and early education); and
  • Better aligning systems and financial resources to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health, social services and education services.  

This report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, describes the EPISCenter as a model state-level “backbone organization” for providing this support across communities and human service systems.

Reducing Teen Substance Misuse: What Really WorksThe second report, Reducing Teen Substance Misuse: What Really Works, recommends utilizing a state-level prevention support system, such as the EPISCenter, to assist in the prevention of teen substance misuse by supporting communities to diagnose the underlying drivers of youth substance use and successfully implement evidence-based prevention approaches. These programs not only reduce youth substance use and delinquency, but also help provide much broader support for positive child and youth development.

The EPISCenter's Founding Director and Principal Investigator, Brian Bumbarger, cited the strong partnership between Penn State and Commonwealth agencies, as well as a network of communities and providers across the state with whom the EPISCenter works closely. “We must work together in partnership across different sectors and bring our collective resources together – no one school, community or system can do this on their own. We’re proud to work in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, as well as the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Drug and Alcohol Programs and the countless communities members and local providers across the Commonwealth who do this important work,” says Bumbarger.

“The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) is committed to utilizing a research-based approach to prevent youth crime and teen substance misuse and to promote healthy youth development,” Bumbarger said. PCCD provides funding and support to communities to identify their specific prevention needs through a data-driven process. Communities identify and prioritize youth risk and protective factors for targeted prevention efforts, and select evidence-based approaches to impact those identified factors. PCCD also provides funding for the start-up and implementation of evidence-based programs. To ensure that communities achieve the best results the EPISCenter, with funding from PCCD and the Dept. of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth, and Families, provides technical assistance to providers implementing these evidence-based prevention strategies. EPISCenter plays a key role in evaluating those programs and proactively promoting continuous quality improvement for the greatest youth and community impact.

A full copy of both reports, as well as supporting materials, can be accessed at www.healthyamericans.org/reports/.