Youth groups lose drug prevention grant

Youth groups in Clatsop County have lost a federal drug and alcohol abuse prevention grant.

A five-year, $625,000 federal grant to help prevent youth drug and alcohol abuse on the North Coast was cut off after the local fiscal agent resigned.

North Coast Prevention Works, the coalition that was awarded the grant, said the fiscal agent, Warrenton-Hammond Healthy Kids Inc., resigned in February.

Unable to find another fiscal agent, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the federal agency that provided the money, terminated the grant in the middle of the second year.

The Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant was worth $125,000 a year for five years, with a possible five-year extension.

Julia Hesse, the chairwoman of the governing board for North Coast Prevention Works and Clatsop County’s tobacco prevention coordinator, said Healthy Kids had become overwhelmed with overseeing the grant.

“We don’t have anything right now,” Hesse said of losing the money.

The coalition is trying to reach the federal government to see if the grant can be reinstated with a new fiscal agent, Hesse said.

Debbie Morrow, the director of Healthy Kids and chairwoman of the Warrenton-Hammond School Board, said the loss of the grant is disappointing.

“It is always disappointing when something like this happens, especially when you have worked for over seven years to get the grant,” Morrow said in a text. “But as you can imagine, a federal … grant is very specific not only from the compliance reports but to the community engagement and involvement.”

Healthy Kids had hired Carly Castaneda as a coordinator of partnerships, wellness campaigns, training and education. Castaneda previously worked as youth coordinator for WellSpring Community Network, a wellness group on the Long Beach Peninsula also funded in part by a federal Drug-Free Communities grant.

Castaneda left Healthy Kids in September and has since returned to WellSpring in a similar role coordinating the implementation of its federal grant. She declined to comment on her departure from Healthy Kids.

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