The Communities That Care System

There are Five Phases of the process used in the Communities That Care System: process.gif

Phase One: Getting Started

Phase One includes a readiness assessment to ensure that the community is ready to start the Communities That Care process, and identification of key individuals and organizations to lead the effort.

Specific tasks of Phase One:

  • Define the community to be involved.
  • Recruit a Champion (a community leader) to guide the process.
  • Assess community conditions, activities and initiatives that may affect readiness.
  • Identify building blocks and stumbling blocks.
  • Identify community stakeholders who need to be involved.

Phase Two: Organizing, Introducing, Involving

Phase Two involves building the coalition of individuals and organizations to involve and building on existing initiatives that address health and safety issues.

Specific tasks of Phase Two:

  • Involve and educate identified stakeholders.
  • Develop a vision for the future of the community’s children.
  • Put an organizational structure in place to help the community move toward the vision.

Phase Three: Developing a Community Profile

Phase Three involves collecting community-specific data and constructing a profile from the data which allows the community to analyze its unique strengths and challenges.

Specific tasks of Phase Three:

  • Collect data on risk factors, protective factors and problem behaviors.
  • Analyze the data to determine priority risk and protective factors on which to focus the community’s efforts and resources.
  • Identify and assess community resources that currently address these priority risk and protective factors.
  • Identify any gaps to be filled in existing resources by expanding the resources or implementing new tested, effective approaches.

Phase Four: Creating a Community Action Plan

Phase Four involves defining clear, measurable desired outcomes using the risk- and protective-factor profile; reviewing tested, effective programs, policies and practices for reducing prioritized risk factors and enhancing prioritized protective factors; and creating action plans for putting new tested, effective programs, policies and practices in place. It also includes developing an evaluation plan for collecting and analyzing data to measure progress toward desired outcomes.

Phase Five: Implementing and Evaluating the Community Action Plan

Phase Five involves forming task forces to put each tested, effective program, policy or practice in place; identifying policy makers, organizations, service providers and practitioners to implement the chosen approaches and training those implementers in the chosen approaches. It also involves building and sustaining collaborative relationships among organizations and other stakeholder groups that implement the chosen approaches and developing information and communication systems to support the collaboration. Communities in this phase are engaged in educating and involving the entire community; evaluating processes and outcomes for participants; evaluating outcomes for targeted population and community, adjusting programming to meet plan goals; and celebrating successes. For more complete information on the Communities That Care system, please visit the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI). In particular, the publication entitled “Investing in Your Community’s Youth” is a great place to start!


Communities That Care was developed by Dr. J. David Hawkins and Dr. Richard Catalano of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington. The Communities That Care system is a community action model, based on years of research and continuous improvement, that:

  • Takes a systematic approach to community building
  • Focuses both on promoting positive youth development and on preventing problem behaviors
  • Helps communities collect the right data
  • Helps communities prioritize predictors based on the community profile.
  • Matches prioritized predictors to tested, effective programs, policies and practices that have proven their ability to affect these predictors.
  • Helps communities implement and evaluate a community action plan, which increases accountability.