This issue of the newsletter includes: a collaboration between Westat and NCCD; a new webinar on predictive analytics and child protection; CEO Kathy Park represents NCCD around the country; the 2016 Media for a Just Society Awards call for entries opens. *This link opens slowly; please be patient.
Disposition matrices help guide decisions, allow for more effective practice evaluation, and are powerful tools for helping systems achieve their goals.
While the abstract concept of validity makes sense, actual testing for validity can be challenging. Because validity exists on a continuum, with degrees of less and more valid, we think of some tools as being more valid than others. This means that a test to determine which tools are most or least valid can be useful.
Risk assessment instruments must be evaluated against certain criteria to ensure they function appropriately and that decision makers are likely to “get it right.”
Research has demonstrated that structured decisions lead to better outcomes than those based on worker judgment alone.
A disposition matrix brings a greater degree of consistency, reliability, and equity to the assessment and decision-making process.
Risk assessment is a core practice to promote safer communities and more successful youth.
Recent research suggests that half of all children in the United States have experienced some type of traumatic event that threatens their safety or well-being. Children involved with the child welfare system are particularly vulnerable to trauma. Over the last decade, child welfare agency managers and stakeholders have been pursuing ways to ensure that practice is trauma-informed, i.e., based on research about how trauma affects human beings, and that all children served by the child welfare system are screened and assessed for trauma symptoms. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has supplemented these efforts with analyses of data systematically recorded by social workers to determine whether the likelihood of experiencing trauma symptoms can be estimated. A brief summary of this research can be found here.
In December 2013, The California Endowment funded the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) and Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. to conduct a feasibility study on restorative community conferencing (RCC) to better understand its potential for a Pay for Success (PFS) project. An analysis of available data gathered since 2012 has revealed that of the young people who completed Alameda County’s RCC program, 26.5% were rearrested compared with 45.0% of a matched sample of youth whose cases were processed through the juvenile justice system. Notably, only 11.8% of the RCC youth were subsequently adjudicated delinquent— that is, determined by the court to have committed another delinquent act—compared with 31.4% of the matched sample of youth whose cases were processed through the juvenile justice system. Of participating crime victims, 99% stated they would participate in another RCC. This program also carries significant cost-saving potential, as these lower rates of reoffending combine with a one-time cost of $4,500 per RCC versus $23,000 per year for a youth on probation. With such promising data, NCCD and Third Sector sought to better understand how RCC could be scaled through a PFS project and what capacity building would need to take place for such a project to be feasible. The results of this analysis are detailed in the feasibility report.
NCCD has released new graphics that display important data on the effectiveness of risk assessments used in juvenile justice systems around the country. These charts come from NCCD’s study of eight risk assessments in 10 jurisdictions in consultation with an advisory board of juvenile justice researchers and developers of commercial risk assessment systems. In response to concerns voiced by juvenile justice practitioners and researchers about the classification and predictive validity of several risk assessments, NCCD conducted a multisite study that compared the assessments’ predictive validity, reliability, equity, and costs.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) partnered with NCCD’s Children’s Research Center (CRC) to implement a Structured Decision Making® (SDM®) risk assessment for child protective services (CPS). This actuarial risk assessment will help DFPS to identify families at highest risk of future child maltreatment to inform decisions related to service provision with the goal of preventing the occurrence of future harm. DFPS decided to adopt a version of the risk assessment originally developed for a child welfare population served by the California Department of Social Services. To test whether that version of the risk assessment will work as intended for DFPS, CRC conducted this preliminary risk fit study. The results of the study showed that the risk assessment will work as intended for the DFPS CPS population. A full risk validation study is recommended within three to five years of implementation.