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Success Story: Pennsylvania

The number of evidence-based intervention programs (EBIs) and the number of Pennsylvania counties implementing evidence-based intervention grew steadily from 2005 to 2010. Multisystemic Therapy (MST) and Functional Family Therapy (FFT), both of which can serve as an alternative to placement, were the most common. At the same time, the placement of adolescents in congregate care and restrictive placements decreased across systems (juvenile justice, children and youth and mental health). The Pennsylvania County Comparison examined 8 counties without evidence-based programs (EBI) to 11 counties that implemented EBI. As a whole, counties implementing EBIs showed substantial decreases in delinquency placement rates, while the group of counties without, failed to demonstrate positive changes. Additionally, the study showcased that the youth, in counties with EBI, made positive changes in all outcomes measured in the study.

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The Study: Pennsylvania County Comparison

  • To explore the relationship between implementation of home-based evidence-based treatment and decreasing placement rates, 19 counties that did not have MST or FFT available in 2006 were identified. These counties were divided into two groups based on whether they began implementation of MST or FFT.
    • Group A: 11 counties that began implementing MST or FFT between 2007 and 2009
    • Group B: 8 counties that did not adopt MST or FFT during the evaluation period
  • As one component of the analysis, juvenile justice placement rates from 2006 to 2012 were calculated, as were changes in the raw number of youth placed each year. Placement rates were looked at for each group as a whole. The groups were compared to one another as well as to statewide trends.

The Findings

  • The group of counties implementing EBIs showed substantial decreases in delinquency placement rates, while the group of counties without, failed to demonstrate positive changes.
  • Change In Placement Rate:
    • Juvenile justice placement rates were defined as the percent of new allegations and disposition reviews resulting in placement. In 2006, the placement rate for the two groups was comparable (10.58% and 10.69%).
    • Group A saw a 39% decrease in the rate of placements, from 10.69% in 2006 to 6.52% in 2012. There was a steady decrease over the 7-year period, with change beginning prior to the actual implementation of EBIs.
    • In contrast, Group B did not show a predictable pattern of change. The small change from 2006 to 2012 represented only a 4% reduction in the rate of placement.
  • Change In Number of Youth Placed:
    • Across the time-period studied, Group A, which included more heavily populated counties, placed a much larger number of youth.
    • Group A showed a steady reduction in the number of youth placed from 2006 to 2012. The number of youth placed decreased by 46% (from 1,321 to 791).
    • While Group B showed an overall 16% reduction in the number of youth placed in 2012 compared to 2006, there was not a consistent trend over the 7 year period examined.
    • Counties adopting an EBI decreased the number of youth placed at a faster rate than the state as a whole, while the group of counties without an EBI also decreased placements but at a much slower rate.