Reclaiming Futures is featured in, "Models to Guide System Reform for At-Risk Youth," which appeared online July 4 in Child and Youth Care Forum. (Sorry -- I can only link to the abstract.)
The authors, Susan A. McCarter, Mason G. Haber, and Donna Kazemi, ransacked the research literature for reform models that could help policy makers. They noted that although youth in the juvenile justice and adult criminal justice systems have complex issues -- and coordinating multiple services to provide appropriate care for them is difficult -- there's actually very little guidance on how to do it well. They found five promising models, however, and I'm pleased to say that Reclaiming Futures (ahem) was one of them.
Other models included wraparound, "Friedman’s Conceptual Framework for Developing and Implementing Effective Policy in Children’s Mental Health," the Gateway Provider Model, and The California Learning Collaborative Model (CLC) combined with the Best Clinical and Administrative Practices Model for Change (BCAP).
The authors of the review go on to list areas they believe the five models have not fully addressed (though they acknowledge that not all apply to Reclaiming Futures). They suggest that policy makers should bear these issues in mind when crafting their own approaches to reform.
I want to highlight some good questions they raise about how communities use data to support reform:
For example, how can communities integrate and weigh different types of evidence, from both qualitative and quantitative sources? How can communities make use of evidence-based practices in ways that balance needs to use them as developed (i.e., with fidelity) but also adapt them to local circumstances (adaptation)? How are data from multiple sectors or administrative or governmental levels integrated? Although the literature on the use of mixed methods, the adaptation of evidence-based practices, and the integration of data across sectors and levels are rapidly expanding, the relative lack of guidance related to these issues by the models reviewed suggests a need for further insights.
They're right about these questions, and in our work with Reclaiming Futures sites, we've found that moving forward in these areas is a complex dance requiring a balance of local experience and circumstances with "what works"; as well as identifying and building on local leadership and expertise to maximize (or in some cases, create) collaborative efforts focused on system reform.
As for integrating data from multiple governmental and administrative levels, that's as much a leadership challenge as it is a technical problem. The establishment of cross-disciplinary teams devoted to analyzing and using data can do much to move things along, but there's no question that state-level policy can sometimes impede progress at the local level. Though the converse is also true: changing state regulations can dramatically shift what's possible at the local level.
(Incidentally, I was pleased to see that BCAP also uses "rapid cycle tests" to help systems improve their ability to serve clients. Reclaiming Futures uses them too, following the lead of NIATx, which uses them quite effectively to improve behavioral health care treatment services nationwide.)
Updated: February 08 2018