The Reclaiming Futures public health and juvenile justice reform framework saves millions of dollars and promotes better outcomes for teens and communities, according to a national evaluation led by the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women, known as SIROW.
Five communities using the Reclaiming Futures model – a national framework that promotes effective treatment practices – saved $11 million in one year, the evaluation found. The model also showed that juvenile drug courts implementing the model saw significant reductions in crime and delinquency, which drove these notable fiscal savings.
The research project was funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through an interagency agreement with the Library of Congress.
A SIROW research team examined cost savings over a 12-month period at five juvenile drug courts around the country where the Reclaiming Futures model was implemented.
“Researching problems of importance to communities is part of SIROW’s mission,” said Sally Stevens, SIROW’s executive director. “Findings from this national evaluation illuminate an approach that helps communities address delinquency, substance use and mental health issues among youth."
Results show that the savings from implementing Reclaiming Futures are more than double its cost; net savings amounted to $84,569 per teen. Serving a total of 139 teens over the year of the study, these five communities saved more than $11 million in total.
Further, average savings were even greater among participating teens with severe clinical problems, amounting to $232,109 in savings per teen.
“This research reinforces that Reclaiming Futures is successful at getting effective treatment to court-involved youth, especially those with more significant treatment needs, preventing recidivism, and all the while saving money that can be reinvested into community-based programs,” said Evan Elkin, Reclaiming Futures’ executive director. “This is good news for both the economic health and the well-being of our communities."
The five communities that implemented Reclaiming Futures are diverse both geographically and regarding the populations they serve.
Two communities are located on the West Coast, two in the Midwest and one in the Great Lakes region. All are funded as part of a multimillion-dollar effort by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Though researchers looked at several factors to determine savings, such as days of missed school or work, days of physical health problems and days of mental health problems, the primary driver of savings was a reduction in crime and delinquency. This showed that Reclaiming Futures coupled with juvenile drug courts reduces recidivism and supports positive outcomes for teens.
"Our analysis did not isolate the specific factors contributing to the reduction in criminal activity that generated the greatest savings from juvenile drug courts implementing the Reclaiming Futures model,” said researcher Kathryn McCollister of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, a consultant on the national evaluation.
"My impression, however, is that the coordination of care and interagency collaboration that Reclaiming Futures adds to juvenile drug courts may be a key factor in reducing crime and delinquency among this group,” McCollister said.
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| Sally Stevens
| UA Southwest Institute for Research on Women