In Southeast and Central Seattle, a UW School of Social Work–sponsored initiative is working to promote healthy behaviors and prevent the most persistent social problems among young people before they begin.

Travel south from the University of Washington for several miles and you’ll find yourself in one of the most diverse communities in the country—Southeast and Central Seattle, where 59 languages are spoken, many families have low household incomes, and young people face numerous obstacles to achieving success in and out of school.

Many social services are available in this area, but the community wanted to see more coordination among them and a greater focus on evidence-based practices. They found a willing partner in the UW School of Social Work, which pioneered a preventive approach that has achieved striking results around the country: on average, a 25 percent reduction in crime, 32 percent reduction in alcohol use, and 33 percent reduction in tobacco use among youth.

The School’s Social Development Research Group developed and refined this methodology, called Communities That Care (CTC), over the past 30 years and has brought it to dozens of communities nationwide. Southeast and Central Seattle recently became the first of several communities in King County to implement CTC as part of a five-year, School-sponsored initiative called Communities in Action.

Path to Prevention Graphic