Drug-Free Communities: South Suburban Family Wellness Alliance

TASC, on behalf of the South Suburban Family Wellness Alliance (SSFWA) which serves Chicago Heights, Illinois, was awarded a FY 2013 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Nationally, the DFC program supports youth substance use prevention coalitions that facilitate citizen participation in working toward a common goal of building safe, healthy, and drug-free communities to effect local-level change.

The primary goals of the SSFWA Coalition are to: 1) increase community collaboration, and 2) reduce youth substance use of alcohol and tobacco products. The Coalition is achieving these aims by implementing the following strategies.

  • Expanding and enhancing the membership of the Coalition.

  • Conducting community outreach to increase visibility of the SSFWA and increase awareness of youth substance abuse.

  • Addressing the unacceptable increase in use of alcohol by 7th and 8th graders in School District 170.

  • Decreasing access and availability of tobacco products to youth age 12-17 in Chicago Heights.

  • Decreasing access and availability of alcohol to youth age 12-20 in Chicago Heights.

  • Engaging youth in the messaging of the SSFWA mission and activities.

The SSFWA program model is based on the national Strategic Prevention Framework: Assessment, Capacity, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation, Sustainability and Cultural Competence. SSFWA’s mission is to: Holistically address health disparities among City of Chicago Heights residents, supporting the development of healthy individuals and families in the community through advocacy, education, policy, systems and environmental change. Engage community stakeholders to collaboratively work toward an enhanced caring and inclusive climate for all citizens.



To be a partner with the Coalition in community engagement and capacity building in Chicago Heights, the SSFWA needs representation of the following sectors:

  • Youth (18 or younger)

  • Parents

  • Businesses

  • Media

  • Schools

  • Youth-serving Organizations

  • Law Enforcement

  • Faith-based Organizations

  • Civic/Volunteer Groups

  • Healthcare/Hospitals

  • Local Government

  • Other Organizations (involved in reducing substance  use)


TASC’s Role

TASC is serving as the primary liaison between SAMHSA, the SSFWA fiscal agent, and SSFWA members, managing grant administration, program implementation and daily operations as they relate to contractual compliance. In addition to serving on the SSFWA Executive and relevant subcommittees, we are working with all community partners to provide site monitoring and technical assistance as needed.

In partnership with the SSFWA Executive Committee, TASC’s DFC Program Director oversees local planning, implementation, and ongoing evaluation and enhancement activities related to Drug-Free Communities program goals.


Primary Funder(s)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention



Luis Lopez

Did You Know?

According to the Center for Prevention Research and Development, in 2012 one out of three 8th graders reported using alcohol in the past year in Illinois; by the time they reach 12th grade, about two out of three youth report past-year alcohol use. (Source: Illinois Youth Survey 2012 State Report, 2013)

Through this DFC program, the Chicago Heights Police Department has been able to increase local business compliance checks, and access to tobacco and alcohol products by 8th graders from gas stations and stores significantly decreased between 2012 and 2014 in Chicago Heights (tobacco from 7% to 2%, and alcohol from 4% to 1%). (Source: Illinois Youth Survey, 2014)

Counties Served

  • Cook