330 W. Michigan & 306 W. Michigan, Jackson, MI 49201 info@strong-families.org 517-787-7920


Family Service & Children’s Aid is celebrating the Breakout Drug Education Program’s 20 years of service to Jackson County. Breakout has served 58,000 middle and high school students by providing drug and alcohol prevention education in the schools. Over the 2011-12 school year there will be a series of celebrations, fundraisers, and opportunities for students, teachers, and parents to express what Breakout has meant to them. There will be video clips coming to our website soon featuring youth who have been through the program. The celebration of Breakout’s twenty years of service will culminate in a Derby Day extravaganza. Be sure and hit the subscribe button on our home page to receive updates as they are posted.

Funders for the Breakout Drug Education Program are United Way of Jackson County, the John George Foundation, and Mid-South Substance Abuse Commission. Corporate partners are the Michigan International Speedway, Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc., Allegiance Heath System, and Gerdau MacSteel. If you are interested in supporting Breakout’s work, consider giving twenty quarters, twenty $1’s, twenty $5’s, or twenty $10’s to help celebrate their twenty years of service. You can make your donation online at our home page and be sure to click on the “add special instructions for your gift” when you go into Paypal and type in “Breakout”


Breakout started as a one-day program with a school assembly presentation, and evolved into a four-day interactive classroom based program. In 2008, the program went through an evaluation by The Michigan Public Health Institute. On their recommendation, Breakout became an eight-day program giving students twice as much time to absorb the concepts. The Michigan Public Health Institute gave the program high marks for its curriculum and its evaluation procedures.

Breakout uses a curriculum recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) as using evidenced based strategies. The program administers both pre and post tests for evaluation purposes. The curriculum covers information about alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, methamphetamines, inhalants, and prescription drugs. There are classroom presentations and exercises on assessing risk, problem solving, positive peer culture, and the social and economic impact of substance abuse. They also talk about the impact of alcohol and tobacco advertising, and the cycle of addiction.

The classroom teachers for the Breakout Drug Education Program are Barb VanHouten and Shelly Milligan. Barb is a Certified Prevention Specialist and has been teaching for Breakout for five years. She has a BS in Public Health Education from Central Michigan University. Barb is married and has a black Labrador, Tank. She likes motorcycles and traveling. Shelly is a Certified Prevention Specialist and has been with Breakout since its inception twenty years ago. She has a Bachelors of Social Work from Spring Arbor University. Shelly is married, has three children, and three grandchildren. She likes racing and camping.

You can learn more about what the Breakout Drug Education Program is doing by going to their website at http://www.breakoutdrugfree.org or following them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Breakout-Drug-Education/390549788184