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RFP--Evaluation of 2-year Pilot Project to Reduce Problematic Marijuana Use in Ontario

Youth-to -Youth: The Risks and Realities of Marijuana Use is a
youth-driven pilot project to develop effective strategies to reduce
problematic marijuana use among a target group of Ontario youth ages
15-18. The Project is funded by Health Canada's Drug Strategy Community
Initiatives Fund and is managed by Parent Action on Drugs.  A
partnership of youth, health promotion organizations and youth
treatment organizations directs the initiative.

An external evaluation is a main component of the project. Parent
Action on Drugs (PAD) is looking for an established organization,
individual or consulting team to fulfill the expectations of this RFP
and assist PAD in achieving this component.

Background

Youth often tell staff at the organizations involved in the Project
that there are really no problems associated with marijuana use - and
that it is essentially a risk-free substance. And yet, in an informal
survey of 200 students ages 15-18 completed in 2005, the most common
complaint of students who both use and those who are friends of users
was "smoking weed makes people, out of it, lazy, act different" (PAD,
Marijuana Users Survey, 2004/05)

Research also reports common problems with marijuana use including
short term and longer-term effects such as impaired reflexes, reduced
short-term memory, impaired respiratory system and the potential for
dependency. Often these problems are based on the amount used and
pattern of use.

Currently in Ontario, the Safe Schools Act includes suspension and
exclusion as a response to marijuana use at school and this also can be
seen a problem for users.

In the most recent Ontario Student Drug Use Survey completed by the
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2005), cannabis use by the
target group continues in numbers, and in patterns of use, that have
potential for problems for the users.

  • 26.5% students used cannabis in the past year
    (about 257,900 students in Ontario) and 34% report using at least once
    in their lifetime
  • 19% of users consumed cannabis weekly - 12% on a daily basis
  • One in 12 (8%) cannabis users report uncontrolled use, sustained use or attempts to reduce use

These problems have been identified by the youth who are directing this
project as a continuum of problems from those associated with breaking
family, school or societal rules to those indicating a dependency on
marijuana use to get through the day. This continuum is defined more
easily for youth by referring to use that is  "from half-baked to
burnt."

In this context, this project will develop several resources to
increase awareness among the target group about the potential for
problematic use, plus ways they can change their behaviour to reduce
their risk for problems.

In year 1, a peer education model and a "Stages of Change" approach
will be employed to deliver a series of activities and resources to
target age students at four high schools in Toronto and four in the
Grey Bruce region.

In year 2, the information received from the evaluation of the
activities of Year 1 will direct the development of the resources in
Year 2, which will include a communication campaign and resources like
a website and a Train-the-Trainer Kit to be made available to
communities across the province.
    
Evaluation Deliverables

Through the evaluation process we are looking in the short-term to
increase knowledge about problematic use, plus increase knowledge about
options to change, plus intent to change with the target group. In the
longer-term we are looking to increase access to change supports . We
are also seeking the key messages that will be coming from youth about
what they see as the main problem areas with marijuana use - and what
they want to tell their peers about how to reduce these problems. We
hypothesize that these strategies will run the gamut from quitting, to
reducing use or patterns of use which are problematic.

Year 1

1.    Development of evaluation tools for the following groups

a.    Peer educators - approximately 30 per school

b.    Senior students - approximately 300 - 500 per school

c.    Junior students - approximately 200 - 300 per school

d.    Teaching/admin. staff - approximately 50-75 per school

2.    Each of these groups will have a different set of
resources and activities from a list including a flash media
presentation, an assembly, a training day and a classroom delivery

3.    Above tools may be quantitative or qualitative.
Schools are aware and on board with evaluation plans but want to
maintain anonymity for their students.

4.    Analysis of tools with the following objectives:

a.    Assessment of whether or not the project met its objectives

b.    Assessment of the development of key messages

c.    Evaluation of whether or not youth seek support or
resources to change their behaviour when information is presented by
peers and options for change are available

In Year 2, we reserve the right to send out a second RFP, or to ask the
winning consulting group to continue with the project. The plan to date
includes

1.    Development of evaluation tools for the following:

a.    Website

b.    Communication resources

c.    Train-the-Trainer Kit

One hoped-for result of the project is for schools and school boards to
create supportive environments and make recommendations for policy
shifts concerning alternatives to suspension for students with
problematic marijuana use

Timing

The first evaluation report is due at the end of the first year's activities in June 2006. A final report is due in March 2007.

Qualifications
The successful candidate or organization will demonstrate the following:

  • previous experience in developing and conducting project assessments and evaluations
  • previous experience in working with not-for-profit organizations
  • previous experience or familiarity in working in
    alcohol or drug use issues including the evaluation of primary and
    secondary prevention objectives
  • at least two references

Remuneration

There is a set amount of funding to support this component of the
project. This is $10,000 for both years or $5000 per year, depending on
the way in which the successful consultant sees the needs per year.

This amount includes all time, resources and expenses and taxes incurred by the consultant.

Proposal Submission Requirements

Please provide with your proposal

  • a description of the services to be provided on the
    deliverables described above including a detailed breakdown of the work
    to be completed and associated costs.
  • A one-page biography highlighting your recent relevant experience
  • Suggested timelines for the proposal
  • Breakdown of the 2 year budget
  • Two references

Proposals should not exceed 5 pages in length.

Potential clients will be selected for interviews the week of January
16 with a start date expected the week of January 23. We hope to have
the first set of evaluation tools ready for the week of Feruary 13 - 20.

Completed proposals must be submitted and received by 5 PM, Monday, January 9, 2006 via email, or mail to:

Diane Buhler
Executive Director, Parent Action on Drugs
pad@parentactionondrugs.org
7 Hawksdale  Road
Toronto, ON  M3K 1W3

For further information, please call (416) 395-4970.