Educational Service District 112 (ESD 112) Director of Prevention and Youth Services, Deb Drandoff has been presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Health Care Authority in honor of her more than 30 years of work to prevent youth substance abuse.

Drandoff, who is retiring this winter, was awarded the 2022 Prevention Award of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award by the Washington State Health Care Authority. Deb is one of three recipients of this prestigious award.

“For the past three decades, Deb has been a powerful voice and constant presence in the field of youth substance use prevention,” said ESD 112 Superintendent Tim Merlino. “Deb’s advocacy has created a legacy and a bright future for continued work.”

The Washington State Prevention Awards of Excellence recognize outstanding community partners, including youth, engaged in prevention work. They focus attention on exceptional prevention work being accomplished in communities throughout Washington and shine a spotlight on successful prevention programs with exceptional outcomes that can be adopted or adapted by others.

Leanne Reid, the incoming director of prevention and youth services at ESD 112 commented, “I have had the pleasure of working with Deb for the past eight years and there is no one who is more deserving of this award. Deb is an expert at finding funding, mobilizing staff, and empowering communities to invest in the health of their young people. She will leave a legacy that creates healthy communities and youth for generations to come.”

Over the past 20 years at ESD 112, Deb has led the Prevention and Youth Services department, establishing important coalitions, winning top prizes in the field of prevention work, and putting in place programs and grants that will ensure that youth substance prevention in the Southwest Washington region will continue to thrive for years to come.

Some of the programs and grants that Deb was responsible for leading include:

  • Substance Abuse Prevention/Intervention Specialist Services – Provide 14 Prevention/Intervention Specialists in 23 schools within 12 school districts to implement comprehensive student assistance programs that directly address substance abuse and violence, and provide alcohol and other drug prevention and intervention services to students and their families.
  • Educational Advocate Program – Working with OSPI and Cowlitz and Clark County detention center partners, educational advocates provide case management services to high-need, vulnerable youth in middle and high schools in an effort to increase student re-engagement and prevent dropout. The project also serves youth coming out of state juvenile facilities who are transitioning back to school, workforce, or GED programs. There are 4.5 case managers currently funded in this program in Clark and Cowlitz detention centers, serving about 200 youth per year.
  • Drug-Free Communities Grants – Under Deb Drandoff’s leadership, ESD 112 has served as the fiscal agent for Drug-Free Communities grants for the Prevent Coalition and the La Center United Coalition. In 2021, Prevent Coalition was awarded the Community Anti-Drug Coalition’s Coalition of Excellence award in recognition of its outstanding and measurable success in community-level youth substance use and abuse prevention work.
  • Youth Marijuana Prevention and Education Program – Washington State’s Department of Health (DOH) granted a Marijuana Prevention Grant to ESD 112, allowing for the creation of a comprehensive toolkit that served to help adults make connections with young people to help reduce the risk of substance abuse. It was made available in English and Spanish, and in 2021, was made available online.
  • Tobacco Prevention Grant – The DOH funds a program that provides youth prevention activities related to tobacco and e-cigarettes in Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Skamania Counties.
  • Student Threat Assessment Program – In partnership with mental health, law enforcement, and juvenile justice agencies, the Student Threat Assessment Program, administered by ESD 112, provides Student Threat Assessment services to school districts.
  • Connect 2 Careers – Funded by the federal Department of Labor Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, Connect 2 Careers is designed to assist young adults from Clark and Cowlitz Counties as they begin employment or complete their secondary or post-secondary education. Young adults receive education, training, work experience and earn industry-recognized credentials.
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Grant – ESD 112 is funded by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to provide the Youth Mental Health First Aid training component of the Washington State Project AWARE grant. Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (ages 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addiction challenge, or is in crisis.

“Through Deb’s enthusiasm and passion Southwest Washington communities gained resources, programs, and collaborations that have led to positive community-level change,” said Margaret McCarthy of United Washougal Coalition. “This is what a true prevention hero does, empowers youth and communities. As Deb retires from ESD 112, she will be greatly missed, and we look forward to continuing the outstanding programs and resources she put in place during her long tenure in the field of youth substance prevention work throughout our region.”