Evaluation of Programs & Initiatives
Evaluation of Programs & Initiatives

NCCD conducts program evaluations in juvenile justice, adult corrections, child welfare, adult protection, and poverty/economic support to estimate the impact of various programs, initiatives, and system-reform efforts on the populations served. Our highly qualified and experienced research staff employ quantitative and qualitative methods to conduct impact and process evaluations using various research design and methodological approaches to help answer questions about what works and to provide agencies with the evidence they need to show effectiveness.

Selected evaluations include the following:

  • A federally funded, multi-year, random-control trial to evaluate the impact of the Avon Park Youth Academy job training program for medium-risk youth in secure care in Florida.
  • Summative evaluations of four short-term commitment programs in juvenile justice facilities in Wisconsin.
  • A process evaluation of the California Cities Gang Prevention Network that explored changes in gang violence as well as prevention and intervention strategies and effectiveness. This multi-year, multi-site evaluation included an assessment of the influence of internal and external forces on 13 cities in the Network, site visits to all the cities, strategic planning, and interviews with 60 team members, stakeholders, and advisory committee members.
  • A federally funded evaluation of the national Parents Anonymous program. NCCD conducted the only multi-site process and outcome evaluation of the Parents Anonymous child abuse prevention program. The evaluation used longitudinal qualitative and quantitative research methods to examine the outcomes associated with the parent leadership and support group. 
  • A multi-site process and outcome evaluation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention–funded Community Assessment Centers (CAC). The evaluation provided evidence that CACs improve the juvenile justice system’s response to youth through an assessment-driven intervention strategy. 

Efficacy of Risk Assessments

For decades, NCCD has been at the forefront of promoting actuarial risk assessment to validly and reliably estimate the likelihood that an adult offender will engage in criminal activity. Agencies can then target interventions to offenders who are most likely to return to the system. Evaluations have repeatedly shown that actuarial risk assessment outperforms other methods for estimating recidivism.

NCCD conducted a national study of widely used risk and needs assessments in juvenile justice. This study will provide the field with the best methods for determining how reliably and validly various risk/needs assessments function. Results from this multi-year effort, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, can be viewed here.

NCCD is internationally known for research on the risk of child maltreatment and has conducted studies in the United States, Australia, and in 2012, Canada. In addition, NCCD's impact evaluation of the Structured Decision Making® (SDM) system in child protective services found evidence that using the SDM® system can help lower maltreatment recurrence rates.

NCCD has made significant contributions to the adult protective services field with the introduction of the first risk assessment designed specifically for this population. The risk assessment was part of a multi-year study funded by National Institute of Justice and was completed in 2010.

NCCD created the first assessment in the U.S. to validly and reliably estimate the likelihood that public financial assistance recipients will obtain and sustain employment. This assessment is used in welfare-to-work agencies to optimize resources by targeting employment services to recipients who need the most support with finding and keeping jobs.