Statement of the Dave Batty
Executive Director, Teen Challenge Inc.
Brooklyn, New York

Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Human Resources
of the House Committee on Ways and Means

Hearing on the Impact of Substance Abuse on Families Recieving Welfare

October 28, 1997


I am Dave Batty, the executive director of Teen Challenge in Brooklyn, New York. I am pleased to be here to testify on behalf of Teen Challenge.

For the past 39 years the Teen Challenge organization has been working with youth, adults and families affected by drugs, alcohol and other life-controlling problems. In 130 centers across the nation which are privately funded by donations from individuals, businesses and churches, we seek to work with

Teen Challenge does extensive prevention training in schools, churches and other community settings. Long term residential help is also provided to those with serious addictions. Teen Challenge provides over 3,100 beds in their residential programs.

As I have worked with Teen Challenge since 1968, first as a volunteer and then as a full time staff, I have seen the success of this program in leading people to a lifestyle free from addictions.

When I received the invitation to testify before this sub-committee, I was told of your interest in hearing from organizations which are having success in getting people off welfare and life-controlling problems that got them on welfare.

I conducted a survey of the women in our Brooklyn Teen Challenge and found that

Some of these ladies had started on welfare because of a family crisis. Most came to believe the government owed them this money.

It is clear that those who come to Teen Challenge are not shining examples of the success of welfare in its goal to help those in legitimate need and help them move to become part of a productive work force in our nation.

I talked with three who have graduated from Teen Challenge and are now working.

1. One lady graduated in 1991 and has been employed as a clerk/typist at the same job for 4 years.

2. Another lady graduated in 1990 and has been working at the same job in the Bronx for 6 years as a social worker.

3. Another lady who is HIV+ is working very effectively as a staff at Teen Challenge in Brooklyn, NY. She said, "If I had not gone through Teen Challenge I would be out there on the streets getting everything I possibly could from the government."

So how does Teen Challenge help these welfare recipients to so dramatically change their lifestyle? The drug intervention work that Teen Challenge offers is faith-based. At Teen Challenge we treat more than their drug addiction. We tell them they need to change their whole way of living. They need more than drug rehabilitation, they need life-transformation.

The key to the success of Teen Challenge is its holistic approach. We believe the key to long term change of those in Teen Challenge is to place key priority on the spiritual component of their life. Establishing a personal relationship with God is foundational to finding the path to freedom from addictions. This personal relationship with God provides the desire and the power to change their way of living.

In Teen Challenge the residents attend class daily where the focus is not drug education, but life education. Classes deal with anger, attitudes, self-images, temptation, personal work habits, obedience to those in authority, dealing with failure, just to name a few. In each class the focus is on personal application of life principles, not just content mastery.

Getting them physically off their drug addiction usually takes only a few weeks at the longest. But developing a whole new way of living, with new attitudes, new habits, a new sense of personal responsibility --that's why the Teen Challenge residential program is one year long.

In 1975 the Federal Department of Health, Education & Welfare funded a study of the graduates of Teen Challenge to determine the effectiveness of this approach to help drug addicts. Under the leadership of Dr. Catherine Hess, M.D., the former assistant chief of the Cancer Control Program of the U.S. Public Health Service, this study looked at those who had been out of the program for 7 years. This study showed:

For more information on this research project, see NIDA SERVICES RESEARCH REPORT: AN EVALUATION OF THE TEEN CHALLENGE TREATMENT PROGRAM (DHEW Publication No. ADM. 77-425 Printed in 1977) and Research Summary by Dr. Catherine Hess. Both of these resources are available from Teen Challenge National Training & Resource Center, PO Box 1015, Springfield, MO 65801.

A 1994 study under the leadership of Dr. Roger Thompson, Head of the Criminal Justice Department of at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found similar results in looking at graduates who had been out of the program from 2 to 15 years.

A complete report on this research is available from Teen Challenge National Training & Resource Center, PO Box 1015, Springfield, MO 6580l.

Teen Challenge has the proven cure for the drug epidemic. We work with both males and females, with significant student populations of Hispanics and Afro-Americans. Let me caution you--the help Teen Challenge offers cannot be forced on people. They must want to change. However, we have found that many of those who come to Teen Challenge had given up hope of ever changing. They didn't see any way out, until someone told them about Teen Challenge.

In conclusion, faith-based programs offer a high degree of success in helping drug addicts kick their addiction and establish a whole new lifestyle. Those who are using and abusing the welfare system can be helped through an approach that gives primary focus to meeting the spiritual needs of the person in addition to their life-controlling problems.

There is a great need for the federal government to find appropriate ways to partner with faith-based programs which are proving to be so successful in treating those with drug addictions.