New federal dollars will pay for a $1.29 million, multi-year evaluation in six juvenile drug courts implementing Reclaiming Futures, a national program that improves drug and alcohol treatment for teens in trouble with the law. This evaluation, the first of its kind, will examine the impact, processes and cost-effectiveness of Juvenile Drug Courts implementing the Reclaiming Futures model. Funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through an interagency agreement with the Library of Congress, this evaluation will be conducted by the University of Arizona's Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW).
"We know from a 2006 evaluation by the Urban Institute that Reclaiming Futures improves the lives of young people by changing the juvenile justice system for the better," says Susan Richardson, national executive director of Reclaiming Futures. "This new research will look at specific outcomes, such as recidivism, relapse rates, and costs."
The Reclaiming Futures model links community system reforms, substance abuse treatment, and community engagement by using evidence-based practices. It is used by 29 juvenile courts in 17 states and receives financial support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, The Duke Endowment, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
"There is an urgent need for the work Reclaiming Futures does," says Senior Research Psychologist Michael Dennis, Ph.D., of Chestnut Health Systems, one of the groups collaborating with SIROW. "Reclaiming Futures serves kids with high rates of trauma exposure, mental health problems and substance abuse," says Dr. Dennis. "There are 1.8 million adolescents who need treatment for alcohol and other drug abuse. Only one in twenty will get treated."
"It is important to understand what efforts are working in communities," says Sally Stevens, Ph.D., executive director of SIROW. "This comprehensive evaluation will inform the policy and practice of Juvenile Drug Courts and other youth-serving agencies to improve outcomes for youth." Dr. Stevens emphasized that learning how the programs are addressing the high rates of substance use, crime, and trauma among both girls and boys in the program is essential for the field to improve long-term outcomes.
Currently this evaluation involves six Juvenile Drug Courts at locations across the U.S. Three additional communities, new to the Reclaiming Futures model, are expected to be added to the evaluation later this year.
Lori Howell is a Senior Associate at Prichard Communications. She is a seasoned public affairs practitioner with a background in public policy, fundraising, and education. Lori helps clients with online editorial services, media relations, and publications. Before joining Prichard Communications, she served as chief of staff for Greg Macpherson, a former Oregon state legislator, an account executive for the Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit educational testing consortium, and once taught English in Choshi, Japan.
Updated: February 08 2018