Reclaiming Futures has been evaluated by The Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.
This independent evaluation shows the 10 founding communities that piloted the Reclaiming Futures model reported positive and significant improvements in juvenile justice and drug and alcohol treatment. Download the report. »
The evaluation measured the quality of substance abuse interventions for young people in the juvenile justice system. During the first phase of Reclaiming Futures from 2002 through 2007, researchers conducted biannual surveys in 10 pilot communities, tracking how and whether the processes, policies, leadership dynamics and personal relationships led to system change.
Twice annually between December 2003 and June 2006, the national evaluation team surveyed 30 to 40 professionals and community partners thought to be the most well-informed people in each of the 10 pilot communities about the quality of juvenile justice and substance abuse services in their area. These individuals were invited to fill out a comprehensive survey that measured the quality and effectiveness of juvenile justice services and substance abuse treatment.
Their responses were compared over time to assess the direction and magnitude of system change. Most of the quality indicators measured by the evaluation improved significantly during the course of the Reclaiming Futures initiative. In some communities, nearly all of the indicators showed marked improvement. Download the report. »
The national evaluation also measured changes in agency relationships by conducting a social network analysis in eight of the first 10 Reclaiming Futures communities. The study found that overall network strength had increased over time. Download the report. »
In addition to funding the above national evaluation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also supported evaluations at four of the pilot sites. The studies were monitored by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and examined projects in Santa Cruz, CA; Chicago, IL; the state of New Hampshire; and Seattle-King County, WA. The results varied among the four communities, but taken together the studies suggest that Reclaiming Futures has the potential to change agency practices in ways that can lead to improved outcomes for youth. Download the report. »
Do the benefits of Reclaiming Futures justify the costs? To answer this question the national evaluation team collected and analyzed data from 10 Reclaiming Futures sites between March 2002 and October 2007. Based on this research, the evaluators concluded that, "the preponderance of evidence suggests that the Reclaiming Futures initiative was most likely cost effective." Download the report. »
As researchers conduct studies to discover and prove the effectiveness of new practice principles for young offenders with substance abuse issues, positive youth development and cultural competence may emerge as new and evidence-bases practices. The national evaluators of Reclaiming Futures documented strong results that suggest these approaches may one day deserve to be considered core principles of effective juvenile justice practice and future reform efforts may need to incorporate them as both targets and strategies for system change. Download the report. »
Jeffrey A. Butts, Ph.D.
Research and Evaluation Center
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
City University of New York
555 West 57th Street, Suite 605
New York, NY 10019