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Alaska FASD Partnership

The mission of the Alaska FASD Partnership is to promote awareness, prevention, and effective life-long interventions for people affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol and their families.

The Alaska Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Partnership is a coalition of over 150 individuals and organizations committed to addressing issues related to FASD in Alaska.

The Partnership was formed in early 2010 after a groundswell of stakeholder effort and public comment to the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and its partners about the need for advocacy for people affected by FASD and their families.

The Partnership is guided by a steering committee of individuals, organizations, and state agencies, including people who experience FASD, family members, and professionals who work in the field. Additionally, the steering committee has members representing the Departments of Health & Social Services, Corrections, Education and Early Development, Labor and Workforce Development, and the Alaska Court System.

Eight workgroups of the Partnership address a variety of issues related to FASD, including developing policy and funding recommendations, workforce development, promoting collaborations and public awareness, research, training, and more. They are:

  • Diagnosis and Parent Navigation
  • Family and Peer Support
  • Prevention and Treatment for Pregnant Women
  • FASD and the Education System
  • FASD and the Legal System
  • Services for Adults with FASD
  • Professional Development
  • Youth and FASD

In its first year, the Partnership helped to successfully advocate for state funding for substance abuse treatment for pregnant women, parent navigation services, and increased access to services for people diagnosed with FASD. Members co-hosted an informational presentation to legislators – which included testimony from experts and families of people affected by FASD. The Partnership co-hosted with CHARR (Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association) an appreciation luncheon at the Capitol for eight Alaska legislators who have worked to further funding and policies related to FASD. Also, members provided input in the funding recommendation process for the FY12 budget, and held a summit to identify gaps and barriers, and develop short and long-term goals for the Partnership.

In 2011, the Partnership formed workgroups to actively address expanding diagnosis and supported services, family and peer support, prevention and treatment for women with substance use disorders, education and legal system issues, services for adults, and training for professionals. Additionally, Partnership members met with and gave each state legislator an FASD information packet and successfully advocated for substance abuse treatment for at-risk parents, rural peer support services, and the Alaska Complex Behaviors Collaborative, Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 7 proclaiming Sept. 9, 2011 as FASD Awareness Day in Alaska. The Partnership also worked with the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and Alaska Mental Health Board on a “Family Voice” project that brought parents, children, and education professionals affected by FASD to Juneau to receive advocacy training and present before the Senate Education committee on the topic of FASD and the Education System. Finally, Partnership members distributed table tents to 56 restaurants statewide on FASD Awareness Day.

In 2012, Partnership members worked closely with Senator Kevin Meyer’s office to develop the language and advocate for Senate Bill (SB) 151 making FASD a mitigating factor. The bill passed the Alaska State Legislature unanimously. Members of the “FASD & Legal System” workgroup presented before the State House Judiciary and Health & Social Services committees on the topic of FASD and its impact on the justice and correctional systems. The “Family & Peer Support” workgroup is developing a proposal to bring the Whitecrow Village (Canada) model of FASD peer support to Alaska. The “FASD & Education System” workgroup developed a Powerpoint presentation for school administrators that focuses on the importance of addressing FASD early and some tips for how to do it based on practices being implemented within the Anchorage and Lower Kuskokwim school districts. Also in 2012, the Partnership assembled conference exhibit kits with posters, pamphlets, dolls and information for members to borrow and display at conferences. The “Youth and FASD” workgroup was formed and chaired by two young people who are guiding workgroup members to addressing FASD issues related to youth. Additionally, the Partnership worked with the Trust Training Cooperative’s Learning Management System to establish an “FASD Interest Area” that displays available statewide FASD training opportunities.

In 2013 and 2014, Partnership members worked with stakeholders, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, and state legislators to address a variety of issues related to FASD in Alaska. SCR 13 is a resolution to establish and support programs that address FASD, including rapid screening in the Department of Corrections, expanding residential substance abuse treatment for pregnant women, and supporting a public relations campaign. SCR 14 is a resolution encouraging the development of citizen networks to create positive community and social norms for prevention of FASD and supporting regional best practices models to address health and social services challenges. The omnibus crime bill, SB 64, included language that requires the Department of Corrections to provide “necessary assessment or screening of the risks and needs of offenders who may be vulnerable to harm, exploitation, or recidivism as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or brain-based disorder.”

In 2013, the Partnership participated in an effort created and carried out by the Nome Youth Facility entitled, “Mushing for Healthy Babies.” Iditarod musher Aaron Burmeister carried the message “Alcohol and Families Do Not Mix” along the Iditarod Race trail. The Nome Youth Facility created embroidered patches with the message, posters that were distributed to clinics and schools, bracelets, pens, and bookmarks with information about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

The Alaska FASD Partnership continues to support and participate in statewide advocacy efforts, including efforts to address FASD training for foster families and Office of Children’s Services workers, FASD eligibility for special education and disability services, consultation and training across the state for individuals and organizations, schools, legal and medical professionals, families, corrections, and youth programs, and promoting awareness and information at conferences and other events.

For many years, Partnership members have organized an awareness campaign in restaurants statewide on September 9, International FASD Awareness Day, collaborating with Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant, and Retailers Association (CHARR), Alaska Center for Children and Adults (Fairbanks), Nome Youth Facility (Nome), Yukon-Kuskokwim FASD Diagnostic Clinic (Bethel), Volunteers of America (Anchorage), and Juneau Partnerships for Families and Children (Juneau). Table tents promote information about not drinking alcohol during pregnancy and offer a free non-alcoholic beverage for pregnant women. In 2014, volunteers represented five communities, and distributed nearly 900 tents in 56 restaurants statewide. In 2015, this effort saw 1,633 tables, in 83 restaurants, in 10 communities, with 17 volunteers. With turnover per table conservatively estimated to be three times that day, averaging three people per table, it can be conservatively estimated that in 2015, close to 15,000 people were exposed to the “No Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy” message.

If you are interested in joining the Partnership, please click on BECOME A MEMBER (left column) and follow instructions.