The Prevention Network is an alliance of social service providers and community residents fighting to increase access to prevention and treatment services in South L.A. and end mass incarceration.
“We believed that social service providers were critical agents in stabilizing vulnerable families an populations, who get involved in broader community organizing efforts, including public policy and advocacy work, once stabilized.
Congressmember Karen Bass, Community Coalition Founder
Social service providers- people who work in human service organizations, such as homeless shelters, child health clinics, and drug treatment centers- were the first to see the fallout of the crack cocaine epidemic as they struggled to meet the needs of clients who poured into their agencies seeking resources to deal with unemployment and addiction. Frustrated by tough on crime policies that turned a public health epidemic, crack cocaine addiction, into an opportunity to move aggressively against communities of colors, South LA providers worked to identify solutions that addressed the root causes of addiction and crime in local neighborhoods. In 1990, South LA providers convened a conference entitled “Crack: Crisis in the African American Community”, and Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment was born. A few years later, the Coalition formally launched the Prevention Network- an alliance of South L.A. social service agencies providing drug treatment, transitional housing, mental health, and youth and other services in the community.
Over the last 25 years, social service providers in the Prevention Network have identified key issues that drove decisive campaigns in Community Coalition’s history, including “Rebuild South Central Without Liquor Stores”, which resulted in the closure of 150 liquor stores in South L.A. after the 1992 civil unrest. In 2000, South L.A. providers launched the “Family Care not Foster Care Campaign” to shift resources from private foster care agencies to extended family members caring for children no longer living with their biological parents; and the Ex-Offender Taskforce to address the unmet needs of residents returning home after incarceration and remove barriers to housing; employment and education for formerly incarcerated individuals. In 1997, network members, worked with then-Assemblymember Diane Watson to author a bill removing the lifetime ban on public assistance for drug felons who underwent a drug treatment program and the members later published “A Place to Start: A Resource Guide for People Transitioning Out of Prison”, a guide of vital services for individuals returning home from prison.
Most recently, network members organized to defeat the “Community Care Facilities Ordinance” that would reduce the availability of drug and mental health treatment and affordability housing for poor and working families. The Prevention Network led local and regional efforts to pass California’s Proposition 47, a historic bill stop the use of excessive prison sentences for minor crimes and invested prison spending savings into prevention and treatment services.
The Prevention Network continues to direct policy initiatives and resource distribution according to the real human needs they see and address on a daily basis. And network members remain at the forefront of the movement to increase the state’s investment in programs that help families and local neighborhoods thrive.