Institute for Translational Research Education in Adolescent Drug Abuse (ITRE)

Service Learning Projects


2019 ITRE Scholars

ITRE Scholars attending the 2019 CMH Tampa Conference to present on their service learning projects.

Scholars are peered with community agencies, academic mentors, and peer mentors, to develop service learning projects that use the latest science of alcohol and drug abuse prevention, intervention, and sustainability with an added emphasis on translational research and evidence-based practices (EBPs).

Abstracts describing the service learning projects and project presentations completed to date are included below:

Farmworkers Self-Help, Inc. (FSH) – Dade City, FL

A Behavioral Health Evaluation of Hispanic Youth in Rural Communities

2018-2019: Lacey Tucker, BS; Rebecca Liller, BS, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; Margarita Romo, Honor Doctorate, Farmworkers Self-Help Inc., Dade City, FL; Oliver Massey, PhD; Bruce Levin, PhD; Ercilia Calcano, MPH; Enya Vroom, MS, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

Hispanic youth are an underrepresented population in the United States regarding the utilization of behavioral health services. Given that many minority groups, including Hispanics, reside in rural communities, it is important to identify and understand their unique needs to better inform behavioral health service agency providers. The objective of this study was to identify the challenges and service needs of youth in a rural Florida community through a qualitative needs assessment.

Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance, Inc. – Tampa, FL

This is a new community partner. A service learning project is currently in progress.

Hillsborough County Children’s Services – Tampa, FL

Voices in Foster Care: A Peer-Driven Perspective on Successful Development of Life-Skills among Transition-Age Youth

2018-2019: John Martin, BA; Renee Wallace, BS; Donna Burton, PhD; Tom Massey, PhD, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; Jeannie Willsie, PhD, LMHC, Hillsborough County Department of Children’s Services, Tampa, FL

Transition-age youth face a host of barriers to successful transitions into adulthood. Foster care, while acting as a forced placement, may decrease an individual's autonomy and decision making. In-depth interviews were conducted with residential and aged-out youth to explore interest in gaining life-skills and levels of self-determination. This study looks to incorporate concepts from youth-informed practices to develop a promising method for delivering life-skills training to youth in the foster care system.

Hillsborough County Children's Services – Operationalizing Success: An Analysis of Risk and Protective Factors of Transition-Age Youth in Residential Foster Care

2016 – 2017: Jana Leyer, Sarah Sheffield, Jean Marie Willsie, PhD, (Community Partner), Rhonda Rhodes, PhD, (Community Partner), JoAnn Rollins, MA (Community Partner), Tom Massey, PhD (Academic Mentor)

Early adoption of protective factors can facilitate the cultivation of resiliency and successful integration into society. A series of in-depth interviews coupled with surveys were conducted among multidisciplinary staff, youth in residential foster care, and recently emancipated young adults. The evaluation underscored transition-age youths' assertion of needs, present level of risk, and multilevel protective factors which will be used to better understand how current treatment programming promotes protective factors for residential foster care youths.

Early Implementation Study: Hillsborough County Children's Services

2015 – 2016: Monica Chambers, Gina-Maria Roca, Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD (academic mentor), Rhonda Rhodes (community partner).

Hillsborough County Children's Services Division (n.d.) strives " be recognized as the nationally acclaimed premier provider of comprehensive, innovative, and efficient services for Hillsborough County's youth and families." To achieve their vision, Children's Services implemented three evidence-based programs: Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Seeking Safety, and Brief and Strategic Family Therapy (Hillsborough County Children's Services, n.d.). Our research evaluates constructs of organizational readiness for change, perceived barriers to change, and beliefs about future sustainability of the implemented interventions. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Infinite Recovery – Austin, TX

This is a new community partner. A service learning project is currently in progress.

Mendez Foundation, Too Good Programs – Tampa, FL

Evaluation of the Too Good for Drugs Prevention Program Implementation Fidelity Checklist

2018-2019: Tracy Bales, BA; Charles Baldwin, BS, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; Kimberly Menendez, MS, Mendez Foundation, Inc., Tampa, FL; Charles Mendez, III, Mendez Foundation, Inc., Atlanta, GA; Bruce Lubotsky Levin, PhD, MPH, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL

Too Good (TG) evidence-based prevention programs empower youth to resist risky behaviors through the development of social-emotional learning skills. Positive student outcomes rely on effective implementation and model fidelity. Revised TG observation tools seeking to measure curricular adherence, dose, quality of delivery, and student responsiveness were tested during program delivery. Measures of validity and reliability were assessed using quantitative and qualitative analysis. Results are presented with recommendations for improvement and implications for adolescent behavioral health.

A Mixed Methods Evaluation of the Adolescent Marijuana Delinquent Act Citation Program in Hillsborough County

2016 – 2017: Vanessa Tate, Lauren Julian, Alexis McKinley, Kimberly Menendez (Community Partner), Charles Mendez, III (Community Partner), Julie Baldwin, PhD (Academic Mentor), Kathy Moore, PhD (Academic Mentor)

The Marijuana Delinquent Act citation (DAC) program was initiated in Hillsborough County in August 2016 to better serve adolescents with substance abuse issues.  A formative evaluation of this program included quantitative assessments of drug use among adolescents as well as qualitative interviews with court personnel, law enforcement agencies, treatment providers, and community members.  Preliminary results of the first six months of the DAC program are presented with recommendations for improvement and sustainability of the program.

Strengthening Adolescent Outcomes: Enhancing Adoption and Implementation of 'Too Good' Prevention Programs using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR)

2013 – 2014: Vicki Lynn, Kimberly Menendez, Monica Solomon, Rita Debate, PhD (Academic Mentor), Charles Mendez III (Community Partner).

Despite the effectiveness of evidence-based programs (EBPs), reported low levels of implementation in real-world settings are a growing concern. The Consolidate Framework for Implementation (CFIR) is a theoretical framework used to evaluate program adoption and implementation processes. The purpose of this study was to apply the CFIR to examine factors that affect adoption and implementation of Too Good prevention programs, enhance these processes for facilitators, and inform implementation science of more effective implementation strategies. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Investigating Adaptations to an Evidence-Based Prevention Program

2014 – 2015: Shawna Green, Lauren Nieder, Ashley Souza, Tiina Ojanen, PhD (Academic Mentor), Kimberly Menendez (Community Partners), Charles Mendez III (Community Partner).

The use of evidence-based programs as preventative interventions has become a popular trend in adolescent settings. With the increased use of the evidence-based prevention interventions, fidelity to the model must be examined and understood, particularly in the face of adaptations. The purpose of this research is to investigate the fidelity of the implementation process and to identify the adaptations conducted within the Too Good prevention interventions. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Adapting a Universal Prevention Program to Fit the Multi-tiered System of Support Framework Utilized in Schools

2015 – 2016: Shalay Jackson, Sarah Gonzalez, Kathy Moore, PhD (academic mentor), Kim Menendez (community partner).

Our team gathered information regarding the implementation processes associated with the use of the Mendez Foundation's Too Good programs in a multi-tiered system. The goal is to provide Mendez clients with valuable information about the processes and procedures essential to adapting the universal programs to meet the needs of students receiving Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. Our research team will provide a formative evaluation to describe the strengths and challenges associated with this process. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Native Americans for Community Action, Inc. – Flagstaff, AZ

A Needs Assessment for Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) Pathways Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Program

2018-2019: Dylan Bilyeu, MA, Northern Arizona University/University of South Florida, Surprise, AZ; Julie Cheney, MS; Jade Heffern, MA, Northern Arizona University/University of South Florida, Flagstaff, AZ; Aaron Secakuku, Native Americans for Community Action, Flagstaff, AZ; Brooke de Heer, PhD; Julie Baldwin, PhD, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona

Native American youth represent a vulnerable population with elevated rates of mental health issues, suicide/death, and substance use problems. Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) Pathways Youth Program focuses on substance abuse prevention for at-risk Native American youth in Flagstaff, Arizona. This study involved conducting a needs assessment for NACA’s Pathways program to identify strengths and weaknesses. A mixed methods approach was employed and included participant observation, qualitative interviews, and a quantitative needs assessment.

Opportunity, Community & Justice for Kids (OCJ Kids) – Phoenix, AZ

Former Foster System Youth Perspectives on Transition to Adulthood

2018-2019: Amy Armstrong-Heimsoth, OTD, OTR/L; Molly Hahn-Floyd, OTS, Northern Arizona University/University of South Florida, Phoenix, AZ; Heather Williamson, DrPH, Northern Arizona University, Phoenix, FL.; Shevaun Sullivan, Projects Manager, Volunteer Coordinator, OCJ Kids, Phoenix, AZ

Youth aging out of foster care face many risk factors as they transition into adulthood. While multiple transition services exist, there is no gold standard transition service. Semi-structured interviews, support mapping, and resiliency measurement was completed to gather the lived experiences of foster youth through transition. Comparisons between those choosing initial transition supports and those who didn’t were explored. Dissemination of needs/desires of the youth can assist with sustainability and effectiveness of transition programming.

Rogers Behavioral Health – Tampa, FL

This is a new community partner. A service learning project is currently in progress.

ACTS (Agency for Community Treatment Services, Inc.) – Tampa, FL

Client Engagement in Medication-Assisted Treatment following Departure from Detox

2018-2019: Amanda Sharp, MPH; Amanda Armstrong, MS; Kathleen Moore, PhD, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; Cris Riviere, MA, Agency for Community Treatment Services, Inc., Tampa, FL

The Agency for Community Treatment Services (ACTS) in Hillsborough County, Florida offers a variety of recovery services, including inpatient detoxification and outpatient medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This mixed-methods evaluation gauges client engagement in outpatient treatment services (like MAT) during the transition from inpatient detox. More specifically, the authors assess patient perceptions of direct clinical care operations and the use of MAT best practices to better understand how patient engagement affects treatment continuity and MAT retention.

Getting Ready for Tomorrow: A Mixed Methods Evaluation of Organizational Readiness towards Implementation of Evidence-based Practice

2015 – 2016: Vinita Sharma, Christine Rollins, Ashley Walker, Donna Burton, PhD (academic mentor), Richard Brown (community partner), Carali McLean (community partner).

To help facilitate transition of evidence based practice (EBP) to agency adoption is through assessing organizational readiness. Online, quantitative survey among staff members coupled with in-depth interviews with key personnel were carried out at Agency for Community Treatment Services (ACTS) in Tampa. The evaluation examined factors that helped/hindered implementation of EBP to identify areas that could be improved to better-facilitate implementation of evidence-based practices in the agency. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Hillsborough County Public Schools, School Social Work Services – Tampa, FL

Evaluating Project Prevent: Implementation of Restorative Practices in Hillsborough County Schools

2018-2019: Joshua Zaris Goldman, MSW, Institute for Translational Research Education in Adolescent Drug Abuse, Tampa, FL; Anubhav Kidambi, MPH; Enya Vroom, MS; Amy Green, PhD, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; Myrna Hogue, EdD, LCSW, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa, FL

Traditional exclusionary discipline punishes students with removal from the classroom. Restorative practices (RP) presents an alternative, allowing students who have caused harm to make reparations to those harmed and the school. RP has shown promising results with decreased suspensions, fewer repeat offenses, and less disruptive or violent behavior. This study evaluates RP in Hillsborough County schools by surveying teachers and staff to determine effectiveness, barriers, and facilitators to improve current and future RP implementation.

Impacting Homeless High School Students: Evidence on Growth and Resiliency

2016 – 2017: Amanda Farris, Myrna Hogue, LCSW, PhD (Community Partner), Flossie Parsley, MSW (Community Partner), Tom Massey, PhD (Academic Mentor).

Homeless youth often rely on the school system as their primary source of stable support.  As students prepare for life after high school, they look to college or workplace readiness programs to prepare them for independent living.  This study is aimed at identifying homeless students' attitudes toward their future goals as a way to develop a post-high school readiness curriculum targeting the social-emotional, workplace, and/or college readiness needs of graduating students at risk for homelessness.

Placing Evidence-based Interventions at the Fingertips of School Social Workers

2013 – 2014: Humberto López Castillo, MD, Catherine Randall, Tommi Rivers, Tiina Ojanen, PhD (Academic Mentor), Ken Gaughan, PhD (Community Partner).

This session shared the experiences of a collaborative partnership between the Hillsborough County School (HCS) District and the Institute for Translational Research in Adolescent Behavioral Health at the University of South Florida (USF). Institute Scholars worked in close partnership with the HCS school social worker supervisor and advisors to create a searchable online database known as eBIT (Evidence-based Intervention Toolkit). Actively translating research to practice, eBIT enables school social workers to search for an intervention with a problem- or student-specific evidence base. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Evaluation of Interventions Utilized in IEP Counseling in the Hillsborough School District

2014 – 2015: Kristen McCallum, Flossie E. Parsley, Sharlene Smith, Kathleen Armstrong, PhD (Academic Mentor), Ken Gaughan, PhD (Community Partner).

Published research regarding interventions used in Individual Education Plan (IEP) counseling is limited. This qualitative study uses a focus group methodology to gain perspectives of individuals directly involved with intervention delivery within the school system. Specific aims include determining what specific interventions are used, how outcomes are measured, and what barriers exist in effective service delivery. Results of the study will be disseminated to the school system and individual service providers. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

BayCare Behavioral Health

Risk Indicator Map for Adolescents of Pasco County

2016 – 2017: Monica Rousseau, Andre Clark, Jason Kora, Tracey Kaly (Community Partner, BayCare), David Chamberlin (Community Partner, Pasco County Schools), Kathy Moore, PhD (Academic Mentor)

Pasco County's youth drug use rates hover above Florida's average. In order to implement meaningful prevention programs, a better understanding of high risk areas is necessary. This study utilized empirical research and focus groups of local experts to guide Pasco County Schools and BayCare Behavioral Health in the creation and validation of a local ranking system which measures risk for poor behavioral health among middle and high school students according to zip code and school.

Implementation of Three Evidence-based Practices Across Two Levels of Care

2013 – 2014: Alexandra Albizu-Rivera, Mathew Lynch, Nichole Snyder, Sara Wolicki, Kathleen Moore, PhD (Academic Mentor), Ed Monti (Community Partner), Tracey Kaly (Community Partner).

This symposium discusses three components of a study conducted to examine the implementation of three evidence-based practices targeting adolescent substance abuse across two levels of care within a local behavioral health care agency. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed to examine the implementation drivers and fidelity across programs. Components presented will: 1) provide an overview of the programs; 2) discuss methodologies employed and data findings; and 3) deliver recommendations and lessons learned. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Youth Services Integration: Evaluation of a Children's Behavioral Health and Primary Care Integration Program

2014 – 2015: Jessica Koelsch, Bailey Thompson, Jessica E. Vazquez, Kathleen Moore, PhD (Academic Mentor), Ed Monti (Community Partner), Tracey Kaly (Community Partner).

The integration of behavioral health services within primary care is crucial given the alarming rate of adolescents in need of mental health services who are not receiving any. Approaches to behavioral health and primary care integration have been developed and primarily evaluated in adult settings. The purpose of this study is to evaluate an integration care program providing children and adolescents with on-site mental health counseling services in a pediatric primary care setting. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Inc.

Evaluation of Teens in Action: A Social and Emotional Learning Program with a Service-Learning Component in a Community Setting

2016 – 2017: Enya Vroom, Nicole Crawford, Andre Clark (Community Partner), Kimberly Williams, (Community Partner), Donna Burton, PhD (Academic Mentor), Tom Massey, PhD (Academic Mentor)

This study was a qualitative process evaluation of the Teens in Action (TIA) program facilitated by Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Inc. TIA is a community-based, social and emotional learning program with a service-learning component for high school students. Five focus groups were used to assess the experiences of the TIA participants, their understanding of risky behaviors, the impact of TIA on responsible decision-making surrounding risky behaviors, and if program modifications could be made.

Framing Frameworks: A Qualitative Evaluation of Teens in Action with Implications for Diverse Dissemination

2015 – 2016: Elizabeth Dunn-Gader, Mariana Stavig, Tom Massey, PhD (academic mentor), Kimberly Williams (community partner), Lisa Rose (community partner).

This study evaluates the curriculum, implementation process and sociocultural context of Frameworks of Tampa Bay's unique Teens in Action (TIA) Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) program. Employing a qualitative methods approach, we identify the key elements of effective implementation and to what extent this foundation informs the anticipated path to evidence based consideration. In addressing potential avenues for exportability, we discuss the influence of socio-cultural/economic context in implementation science, sharing implications valuable to diverse dissemination. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Pasco County Schools

Assessment of Suicide Prevention Knowledge and Awareness among Student Support Programs and Services Staff and School Administrators at Pasco County Schools

2015 – 2016: Ericka Duncan, Aldenise Ewing, Tom Massey, PhD (academic mentor), David Chamberlin (community partner).

This study sought to assess the level of training, knowledge and awareness for suicide prevention and postvention amongst Pasco County School administrators and Office for Student Support Programs and Services (OSSPS) staff. The OSSPS is a first line of contact for many youth facing mental and behavioral challenges. Considering that suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst adolescents, equipping school service staff for with knowledge and awareness for early intervention is imperative. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

DACCO (Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office)

Facilitators and Barriers to Guardian Engagement in Adolescent Drug Use Outpatient and Prevention Programs

2013 – 2014: Shivani Gogna, Carolyn Taylor, Andrew McFarlane, Dinorah Martinez Tyson, PhD (Academic Mentor), Mary Lynn Ulrey (Community Partner).

Adolescents are an at-risk group for drug use and abuse. Evidence-Based Programs (EBPs) exist which focus on parental engagement and strong family partnerships to help ensure the success of drug prevention and rehabilitation programs for adolescents, including minimizing the risk for post-treatment relapse. This study explored perceptions of facilitators and barriers to parental engagement in programs within a local community agency, the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Prevention of Opioid Addiction: Using Perspective to Shape the Future

2014 – 2015: Jennifer A. Shepherd, Maria Von Zuben, Heather Walders, Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD (Academic Mentor), Andrew McFarlane (Community Partner).

Experiences of individuals addicted to opioids are used to develop prevention education programs and develop meaningful interventions and treatments in addiction. The projects goal is to retrospectively identify key factors in individuals' history, experiences, and exposures to drugs. This data will provide information on the targeted features of preventions, treatments, and interventions for the specific population, as well as assist in developing focused curriculum and behavioral health programs for school-aged youth and emerging adults. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

United Way Suncoast

A Pilot of a Behavioral Assessment Scale in Early Learning Literacy in Youth in United Way Suncoast ReadingPals Program

2015 – 2016: Melody Chavez, Bruce Levin, DrPH, MPH (academic mentor), Tom Massey, PhD (academic mentor), Emery Ivery (community partner).

Early exposure to reading and writing can help create school readiness and assist in building a foundation for educational success. Research shows that children who are living in poverty are three times more likely to drop out of school. Early learning literacy programs are designed to help children achieve future success. In order to achieve this, evaluation methods need to be able to measure effectiveness of the program on changes in children's attitudes around reading. To view the presentation, click on the link above.

Eckerd Community Alternatives

Identifying Barriers to Reunification in the Child Welfare System

2013 – 2014: Chanelle Henderson, Kristina Soderstrom, Mary Armstong, PhD (Academic Mentor), Marti Coulter, DrPH, MSW (Academic Mentor), Kathleen Cowan (Community Partner).

Semi-structured interviews capture parental perspectives following a "failed reunification" with their child in the child welfare system. A "failed reunification" describes any event where a child has been removed from a parent, has been reunified with their parent, and has been removed again. Investigators identify factors inhibiting reunification with the following intentions: a) foster dialogue between families and system providers; b) identify barriers to permanency; and c) disseminate targeted evidence- based interventions to eradicate barriers. To view the presentation, click on the link above. 


The Institute for Translational Research Education in Adolescent Drug Abuse is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under award number R25DA031103.