Leadership & Resiliency Program©™ Overview
The Fairfax Leadership and Resiliency Program is an intensive substance abuse prevention program designed to serve selected and indicated populations of adolescents who are currently enrolled in mainstream or alternative high school settings. It started as a federal demonstration site and research project studying the efficacy of prevention efforts. Research oversight was provided through the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) with the University of Maryland acting as the Internal Review Board and as the advisor for all research design protocols.
LRP addresses extreme risk factors using clinical prevention strategies derived from recent science-based prevention research. “Clinical” and “prevention” are not terms often used together, but this program uses approaches that are both scientific and therapeutic while retaining a prevention focus. These strategies identify and enhance internal strengths identified through resiliency research as the most predictive of future success and adaptation in life.
LRP addresses the following internal strengths:
- the desire and ability to feel and understand the needs of others;
- the desire to help others;
- the ability to delay gratification;
- a perspective focused on the future;
- an internal locus of control;
- the ability to genuinely accept one’s circumstances;
- a strong sense of self-efficacy;
- a sense of humor; and
- the ability to take appropriately managed risks.
Throughout, all components of the program targeted areas fall into three common resiliency areas: healthy relationships, goal-setting and coping strategies.
LRP uses social psychology and behavioral interventions to address cognitive dissonance and to support the process of attitudinal formation. Adolescent participants serve as role models for elementary aged youth in a variety of settings, teaching the younger children about the harmful effects of substance abuse. Activities provide participants with opportunities to experience success while introducing a fundamental conflict in the adolescent participant between personal substance use and public persona. The drive to succeed and the experience of self-efficacy are extremely powerful tools in helping adolescents establish positive attitudes and behaviors.
LRP programs and activities are developmentally appropriate and created specifically for the target population. This is critical for successfully generating positive outcomes and for reinforcing positive developmental goals. Adolescence is a time of identity formation, and the promotion of a drug-free lifestyle during this period is especially important. All activities within this program are specifically designed to promote the resiliency of program participants as part of overall identity formation. Building a sense of identity from a foundation of success is a critical component of programming and a guiding philosophical principle of LRP. A guiding tenet in the LRP is that youth who are taught to be successful in adolescence will continue to seek out a success-based orientation to life as an adult.
LRP also seeks to reduce risk factors. Without appropriate intervention, these factors can potentially cause problems throughout a person’s life. Of particular importance are risk factors that can lead to criminality, addiction, and victimization. Many risk factors are addressed while simultaneously addressing resiliency factors; however, LRP workers need to be aware of situations when specific risk factors require immediate intervention. Emerging major mental health disorders and substance abuse treatment needs are especially critical to identify, and LRP staff members are expected to have the expertise to identify them and to address them appropriately. Organizations implementing LRP should develop procedures to discuss these concerns as they arise and be ready to intervene and/or link program participants with treatment or other resources.
LRP programming has three major components:
- In-school groups;
- Community volunteer experiences; and
- Alternative or adventure activities.
Programming provides adolescents with access to an array of activities.
Each program component complements the other two. They are all considered integral components that together provide for a holistic prevention program.
Goals & Objectives
Specific resiliency traits addressed are noted throughout this manual within each program component and within specific activities. The traits can be grouped into three overall target areas to be addressed in all components of programming. The LRP measurement tool included in this manual sorts questions by these three areas:
- Healthy relationships
- Coping strategies (also known as personal skill development)
The long range goals for program participants include reduced/eliminated substance abuse, high school graduation, reduced/eliminated juvenile delinquency, post high school employment or enrollment in college, increased resiliency in at least two life domains, and attitudes that view substance abuse as undesirable and unhealthy. Intermediate objectives include reduced school behavioral incidents, increased attendance, increased grade point averages and increased school and community bonding.
Initially the intermediate objectives began as the long-term goals. What was discovered over time, however, was that these objectives supported the identified long-range goals. These goals, as demonstrated by the initial group of program participants, have become the benchmark by which the long-term success of the program is measured.
Research/Evaluation Design and Outcomes Achieved
The research protocol for this program provided for evaluation to be conducted based on level of participation. In addition to level of involvement and other participant factors, the following process objectives were measured: the extent to which programs were offered; extent to which programs were both high intensity and comprehensive in attempts to effectuate behavioral and attitudinal change; extent that programs involve a coalition of participant organizations.
All participants were evaluated at pre- interim- and post- program involvement to measure individual attitudes and changes. The process evaluation, completed by HIDTA and the University of Maryland, used four instruments to gather information. The Program Administrator Survey queried program staff about their qualifications, training and efforts devoted to the prevention program under study. This included questions about personnel and staffing, types of programs offered, characteristics of participants, level of participation and parental involvement, methods used for retention, benchmarks and obstacles. The Experience Survey questioned youth participants about their perceptions of the program.
Evaluation outcomes of the original LRP program demonstrate strong results for individual participants as well as excellent evidence that this intensive, long-term prevention program works.
In 1998 and 1999 participants demonstrated a:
- 65% reduction in school absences
- 60% reduction in school disciplinary reports
- 0.8 GPA increase on a 4.0 scale
- attrition rate of 5%
HIDTA, in formal outcome reports to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated that the program “has met goals and shown promise for success in strengthening resiliencies and minimizing the impact of risk factors which are goals believed to be instrumental in reducing drug abuse and delinquency.”
LRP replications should develop benchmark expectations for program outcomes based on local needs identified. The original LRP has developed benchmark expectations for first year participants that include a .5 increase in GPA, a 50% increase in school attendance, a 50% reduction in school disciplinary reports, and an increase in the three resiliency competency areas. If these figures are not achieved, implementation should be examined and, as appropriate, adjusted to improve its effectiveness. To date, the original LRP has consistently exceeded its benchmarked outcomes, further increasing levels of local support for LRP programming. Reports from replication sites indicate similar outcomes.
- Achievement Award, Virginia Municipal League, 2005
- Promising Program, Office for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2003
- Model Program, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000
- Governor’s Recognition, Commonwealth of Virginia, 2000.
- Innovations in Government Award, National Association of Counties (NACo), 2000
- JC Penney Golden Rule Award, 2000
- Virginia DMHMRSAS Volunteer Recognition Award, 2000
- Prevention Program Excellence Award, Washington Regional Council of Governments, 1999