If you don't live in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Washington, I can't actually tell you how your state measures up with regard to clients initiating and engaging in treatment.
But that's the point: only a few states in the nation can answer that question, and that needs to change.
Which is at least partly why
one of the key components of the Reclaiming Futures model is that youth should receive at least one service contact within 14 days of assessment (known as "initiation"), and at least two more service contacts within 30 days of the original asseessment ("engagement"). Once people begin to realize what data they can and should be asking of their treatment systems, the sooner they'll be able to get it.
The standards weren't picked out of thin air. Research suggests that meeting these targets is associated with reduced criminal activity and better treatment outcomes. And the standards have been promulgated by The Washington Circle, a group of national experts convened by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).
The Washington Circle wants states to collect data that will tell them whether or not their treatment systems are successful. And they want all states to measure this in the same way, so that they can compare their performance.
They're not there yet, of course, but they're making progress, and they've posted several intriguing PowerPoint presentations on their website. Here's the two that caught my eye:
- "Obtaining and Working with Data from Multiple Agencies: What You Need to Know Before Attempting This!”
- “Washington Circle Public Sector Workgroup: Pilot Test for Adolescents”
(I should say up front that the presentations aren't completely comprehensible without a live person to talk you through them, but they're still compelling and leave you wanting more.)
Those of you working on adolescent treatment will be particularly interested in the second presentation. See slide 12,for example, which shows how Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Washington stack up in terms of initiation and engagement. The differences are remarkable, aren't they?
Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Washington, of course, are home to Reclaiming Futures sites. Am I right to assume that the Reclaiming Futures communities in these states are already tracking initiation and engagement data?
If so, bravo!
Updated: November 20 2008