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VYFS Withdraws as VARSA Fiscal Agent

Vashon Youth and Family Services (VYFS) announced today its intention to withdraw from its role as fiscal agent to the Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse (VARSA) and as contractor with King County on the Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI).

“The CPWI project has changed its focus over the last three years we’ve been involved with it. Today it is much more about community organizing, and VYFS is a service provider, not a community organizer.” said Kathleen Johnson, VYFS Executive Director. “However, it’s important to remember we want to keep working with VARSA to reduce youth substance abuse on Vashon,”

Since the beginning of the year, a sub-committee of VARSA known as the CPWI Workgroup has been updating the Coalition’s action plan. This new plan, plus new county requirements under CPWI have mandated a reallocation of the funding to areas outside of VYFS’ core prevention services.

This will result in a loss of funding to VYFS’ prevention programs, delivered through staff operating out of the PlaySpace. “It’s a cut of somewhere around $100,000 annually, which is a significant loss of funding for our Family Education and Support Services,” Johnson said.

“Despite that, I hope the community recognizes the members of the workgroup have all volunteered countless hours doing complex research and analysis. They worked through a difficult process with great integrity,” said Johnson. “We’re extremely thankful for their efforts.”

The loss of funding will result in a loss of some prevention programs. “We haven’t worked out all the details, but there will be a change of services offered through the PlaySpace,” said Lori Means, VYFS’ Director of Family Education and Support Services. “We are going to focus on birth to six family support, to build strong families from the beginning. We believe, and the research documents, that investing attention during this time period has the greatest impact on combating underage drinking and illegal drug use among youth and young adults.”

The new action plan does provide possibly as much as $35,000 for services through VYFS, although VARSA and the agency are still negotiating what work might be fundable under the terms of the CPWI contract.

VYFS has given King County 90 Days’ notice of its intent to withdraw from CPWI. During this time, VYFS will work with VARSA to manage a smooth turnover to the new fiscal agent for the coalition and a new contractor under the CPWI program, to ensure the program continues to provide support for the diverse range of programming the workgroup has defined.

VYFS intends to continue to work with VARSA on delivering prevention services to families with children on Vashon. “With the changes occurring in the design of CPWI at the state and county level, it has become clear that VYFS is much better suited to serve as a partner on the Coalition or as a service provider supported by the Coalition. We think this change will strengthen our ongoing relationship with the Coalition,” said Johnson.

The Island community shows many risk factors for underage drinking and illegal drug usage, including one of the highest Adverse Childhood Experiences scores among parenting adults in the county, high 30-day use rates for marijuana and alcohol use in 8th, 10th and 12th grades, and a perceived cultural tolerance for alcohol and drug use.
“With these factors at play, VYFS as an agency needs to focus on what we do best: delivering effective prevention services to every Island parent and caregiver,” Johnson said.

The CPWI project is a five year funding opportunity offered to communities through organized Coalitions. Each funded community can receive approximately $140,000 to support approved activities, including prevention programming, environmental strategies and public awareness and education campaigns to help reduce underage substance abuse.