| 2014 Q3 | story by LIZ WESLANDER    | photos by STEVEN HERTZOG |

DCCCA Chief Executive Officer, Lori Alvarado

Tucked up on a little hill at the corner of Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive are the administrative offices of DCCCA, Inc., a diverse non-profit agency that has been quietly addressing substance abuse issues in the Douglas County community for 40 years.

“People in the social service realm know who we are and what we do, and there are certainly pockets of community members that know who we are and what we do, but I think that the vast majority in Douglas County are not sure what we do,” said Lori Alvarado, DCCCA CEO. “DCCCA has not always tooted its horn as much as we should have in the community.”

DCCCA, often pronounced in phonetic shorthand as “decca,” started out in 1974 as the Douglas County Citizens Committee on Alcoholism. It was a grassroots organization that operated on a budget of $7,000 in 1975. As the years went by, the group was able to diversify its funding and expand the type and scope of services it offered. In order to reflect this change, the organization’s name was officially changed to DCCCA by its board of directors in 1989.

DCCCA’s numbers from fiscal year 2013 help paint the picture of how much the organization has grown throughout its 40 years. In fiscal year 2013, DCCCA operated on a budget of $19 million. Its services reached 432,935 people in the state of Kansas and 34,879 in Douglas County. DCCCA also expanded some of its services to Oklahoma in 2013, and it now employs 185 people in both states. In addition to its local inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs, DCCCA’s services now include Foster Parent Training and Recruitment Programs in Kansas and Oklahoma, traffic safety training for the state of Kansas community-based substance abuse prevention programs in eight northeastern Kansas counties, a youth residential center in Pittsburg Kansas and a family-services program for five Kansas counties in the Kansas City metro area.

Although DCCCA’s scope now spreads beyond Douglas County, Alvarado said that the organization still recognizes that its roots are in Douglas County and that its leaders continue to spend a lot of time looking at how to best provide services locally.

First Step at Lakeview, DCCCA’s local inpatient substance abuse center for women, is one example of how the organization has taken a unique approach to serving the community. Located at 3015 W. 31st St., First Step at Lakeview is set up so that women with addictions can bring their children with them while seeking treatment. The facility has a licensed daycare onsite and provides school-aged children with transportation to local public schools during the day. Alvarado said that DCCCA chose to use this model because women with addictions who have children often times have no place to leave their children while seeking treatment, unless they place them in the child-welfare system. This is not an ideal situation because women often have a hard time getting their children back from the system after they have completed treatment.


First Step at Lakeview is an inpatient substance abuse center for women and one example of how the organization is serving its community. Pictured from left to right: Sandra Dixon (Director of Behavioral Health), Janet Spring (Director of Human Resources), Gary Evans (IT manager), Alvarado, Sherree Stanley (Payroll Coordinator), Kerye Jackson (Director of Finance) and Nick McGovern (Facilities manager).

“DCCCA was really innovative early on to provide substance abuse treatment in a facility where women could keep their children with them,” Alvarado said. “The mothers learn how to work with their children in state of recovery versus a state of addiction. We believe it’s a much healthier model.”

Recent changes in DCCCA’s local outpatient treatment program for men, women and adolescents, located at 1739 E. 23rd St., also reflect the organization’s efforts to optimize its services in the community. For the last year and a half, DCCCA has been working toward an integration model, which takes counselors out of the DCCCA building and into other community social service and health care sites.

“Instead of people coming to us, we are trying to go out in the community and connect with people where they live, work and get other services,” Alvarado said. “We believe this gives us a much better connection to the whole person, and it allows us to work toward shared outcomes and be more efficient with our resources.”

DCCCA has worked on integrated care models with Total Family Care, the Lawrence Community Shelter, Health Care Access, Lawrence OB/GYN and Bert Nash.

“It has created some challenges because our employees don’t always have a place to land when they go other places,” Alvarado said. “But we know that it is the right thing to do, so we are continuing to work through the challenges.”

DCCCA receives funding from a wide variety of state, federal and private agencies including the Department of Child and Families, Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Service, Federal Treatment and Prevention Block Grant, Medicaid, private insurance and private donations. DCCCA is overseen by 15 a member Board of Directors who all volunteer from the Lawrence community.

Maintaining high-quality services in an environment where resources are shrinking is a constant challenge for DCCCA, according to Alvarado. However, relying on a variety of funding sources helps with this challenge.


DCCCA has been working toward an integration model, taking counselors out into other community social service and health care sites. Pictured from left to right: Chrissy Mayer (Strategic Initiatives Coordinator), Alvarado and Jeanette Owens (Director of Child Placing).

“With each funding source comes a different set of eligibility requirements, so it’s a bit of a puzzle,” Alvarado said. “But the diversity of funding is what helps the agency maintain a certain level of service. If we lose funding from one source, we are not totally dependent on it.”

Another challenge that DCCCA has encountered in the last decade is the need of the children being placed in foster homes seem to be more intense than in the past. Many children have a combination of emotional, developmental and educational needs that require extra levels of services that DCCCA is challenged to support. Alvarado said she thinks this may be the result of the economic dynamics caused by the recent recession.

“Lots of times for our lower-income families it take two or three jobs to make ends meet, which means less time to interact with their children. The demands of a fast-paced society just take a toll on families,” Alvarado said.

Alvarado said the only answer to these various challenges is for an agency to continue to be willing to rethink how it delivers services, and to strive to provide services in a way that is appropriate for those coming to you.

“I think DCCCA is well-positioned to provide services in a positive, high quality environment in partnership with other agencies who share our same concerns,” she said. “We are really looking to be a good partner in the community.” ■

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