Grassley Promotes Community Anti-Drug Efforts, Fights Teenage Drug Use
"We must make the most of the taxpayer dollars going to fight drug use by teenagers in Iowa and across the country. My bill would enable federal grants to go directly to groups that band together in coalitions and match federal dollars with funding from the private sector and the local community," Grassley said.
Specifically, the Grassley Drug Free Communities Act of 1997 would be funded in the amount of $10 million the first year by re-channeling money already in the federal drug control budget. It would establish matching grants of up to $100,000 for each qualifying coalition. The program would be administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Grassley said that to qualify for a grant a community coalition must demonstrate a long-term commitment to address teen drug use by having a sustainable coalition that includes representatives from a wide variety of community activists. A community coalition making application must have been in existence for at least six months before applying for funds provided for in this bill. A coalition is only eligible to receive support if it can match these donations dollar-for-dollar with non-federal funding.
"The goal of this program would be to encourage local organizations to work together in the fight against teenage drug use," Grassley said. "The key to success in this effort is local leadership and participation. It only makes sense to re-direct money away from the bureaucracy in Washington and toward the many dedicated volunteer efforts already on the ground making a positive difference in their own communities."
In March, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America released new poll results on drug use in the United States. The poll indicated that the four-year trend of increased drug use by younger and younger Americans continues. "More of our children are being offered drugs, and unfortunately, more are saying yes," Grassley said. The senator emphasized, however, the good news from the survey that showed that children continue to cite their parents as a reliable source of information about the dangers of drugs. He said community coalitions across the country play an important role in helping participating parents educate and guide their children.
Beyond the new grant program which would be formed by the bill introduced today, Grassley said that he hopes to further foster this kind of activity with the formation of a state-wide anti-drug initiative that he will soon be announcing. "While numerous local organizations already are making a difference in their communities, an equal number of communities do not yet have a local coalition. I want to help the interested parties work together. With a common goal of preventing and treating illegal substance use, we can make a difference, one community at a time," Grassley said.
Grassley serves as chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio. Both measures enjoy broad, bi-partisan support from members of Congress.
Grassley also said that the proposal is supported by the Universal Contracting Company and the Bethany Lutheran Church in Burlington; East Central Iowa SAFE Coalition in Cedar Rapids; Siouxland Cares in Sioux City; and, Pathways Behavioral Services in Waterloo.