In communities everywhere, passionate individuals come together to volunteer their time and effort and address issues they care about—from education and social services to health, safety, and the environment. However, if the rest of the community lacks understanding of an issue or does not yet see it as a priority, those taking action may face resistance or fail to mobilize people and resources.

Organizations and coalitions can employ the Community Readiness Assessment (CRA) process to determine how “ready” their community members and leaders are for change on a particular issue. They can use this information to plan strategies and activities that increase readiness, making it more likely that their overall project will be accepted and supported by the wider community, and ultimately result in the changes they are working toward.

CRA is a standard process that makes it possible for concerned citizens to:

  • Use the same process to examine readiness on a range of community issues
  • Examine readiness on the same issue across multiple communities
  • Repeat the process after a period of time, to determine whether local efforts to increase readiness have been successful (ie, CRA as pre- and post-evaluation)

In February 2024, 48 Pulaski County stakeholders participated in a brief Community Readiness Assessment, including an online survey and an in-person collaborative activity to determine readiness to prevent and address substance use disorder among Pulaski County community members and leaders.

An interesting find from these assessments is an East & West divide that is an obstacle for obtaining services and support to address substance use. Individuals who live or work in western Pulaski County have an average lower readiness score to tackle substance use compared to eastern Pulaski County. 

Between all the moving parts of the continuum of care, prevention, harm reduction, law enforcement, treatment, and recovery, it will require multiple voices at the table to ensure that we are all working together to minimize duplication of services and ensure no one falls through the cracks. The urgency of the substance use crisis is the ideal time to bring all areas of the county together as one

It’s time for action. New grant funding, new positions—including a Community Navigator serving justice-involved individuals and a School Liaison Officer to manage school-based prevention efforts—and a new Recovery Café are bringing new attention and new solutions to the issue of substance use and prevention in the county. It is time for community members to volunteer and get involved to support these ongoing efforts.

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Learn more about the issue in this report from the Community Foundation and IU Prevention Insights