Parental Guidance Suggested

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Shot down by Congress during last year’s budgeting, the Bush administration-proposed Parent Drug Prevention Corps lives in his FY ’03 budget request as a $25 million (over five years) grant program within the budget of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“We will compete for [the grant] along with everyone else,” offers Sue Rusche, executive director of the Atlanta-based National Families in Action, as she visited D.C. last month “trying to raise funds for privately run Parent Drug Corps programs in all the states.” The idea for a parent corps originated in her organization, says Rusche, and was given to then-candidate Bush in the fall of 2000. “May the best person win,” she chides, “but I won’t feel too good if someone else gets it.”

In the meantime, Rusche has busied herself with revving up interest in pilot programs nationwide. Her first and only success thus far is operated out of Wilson, N.C., by Wilson Families in Action (WFA), a 20-year-old nonprofit drug prevention organization.

WFA Executive Director Phil Mooring, a former state employee who has worked in alcohol abuse treatment for 30 years, says he and Rusche teamed up on a proposal to the state that won a $400,000 contract to get phase one of the North Carolina Parent Corps up and running in February. “We hope to have one paid parent in each of the state’s 100 counties recruiting several unpaid parent volunteers by the end of phase two,” Mooring says. Phase 2 (and another $400,000) will kick in July 1.

Funding is being supplied by the state’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, and the governor’s Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Policy. “Twelve to 13 sites [counties] will initially be identified and then we’ll go from there,” adds Mooring. When asked what the stipend for the parents will be, Mooring says it will be “stronger than the minimum wage.”

“The only qualification for joining,” explains Rusche, “is that the parent have a child in school.” Rusche says the local state coordinators “may or may not be” parents. The program is vital to encouraging “the next generation of parents” to become anti-drug abuse activists, she says. A cadre of committed drug-fighting parents in all 50 states, says Rusche, “has always been a long-term dream.” Contact: (404) 248-9676,