Illinois SAC Engaged in Three Studies
Multisite School Bullying Prevention Program Study
The Illinois SAC has begun an evaluation of state-funded bullying prevention programs. The program will be administered in more than 20 Illinois schools and will serve more than 5,600 students aged 8 to 15 years. The program and the evaluation will include students, their parents, and all school staff.
The schools use one of two evidence-based programs-the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) or Steps to Respect (STR). OBPP is designed to reduce and prevent school bullying in elementary and middle schools. Secondary goals include increased awareness and knowledge about bullying, involvement of teachers and parents in bullying prevention, development of clear rules against bullying, and providing support and protection to victims. STR is designed to decrease school bullying problems by increasing staff awareness and responsiveness, fostering socially responsible beliefs, and teaching social-emotional skills to counter bullying and promote healthy relationships. Upon completion of skill lessons, teachers implement a grade-appropriate literature unit based on existing children's books.
The project's research goals are to: 1) learn about the extent and nature of bullying in the schools, 2) learn how the programs were implemented and operated, 3) compare and contrast the two bullying program types, and 4) suggest programmatic enhancements for the programs for future use and sustainability in participating schools. There are eight data sources to inform the program evaluation and answer the research questions-administrative data, official school re-cords, and six surveys/tools for students, staff, and parents. Two reports will be published from the study-one for the first academic year 2014-15 and one for the second academic year 2015-16 (contingent on renewed state funding).
Evaluation of Juvenile Detention Center Mental Health Program
The Detention to Probation Continuum of Care (DPCC) program was developed by Illinois juvenile detention and mental health professionals to identify detained youth mental health needs, enhance compliance with conditions of probation, and reduce subsequent justice system involvement. Administered by the River Valley Detention Center (RVDC), which serves youth in Kankakee and Will counties in Illinois, the evidence-based program identified the mental health needs of detainees upon detention center admission and provided appropriate referrals to community-based treatment services upon release.
The DPCC program aimed to reduce youth offending and justice-system costs by targeting high-risk youth, structuring supervision, and offering an array of treatment. Identifying justice system-involved youth's risk and mental health needs allows judicial orders to be tailored, resulting in increased compliance with sentencing conditions, reduced subsequent arrests, and ultimately lower justice system costs. SAC staff examined administrative data for years 2003 through 2009 to assess the extent to which youth received DPCC services and to track their compliance with sentencing conditions, subsequent detention admissions, and arrests. In a sample of 211 youth arrested and processed at RVDC, 40% received a court-ordered forensic evaluation. Of those youth, 60% completed community-based treatment services while under probation supervision compared to 42% of those who had a mental health screen and 31% among those released prior to meeting with mental health staff.
The study found youth ordered for forensic evaluation received the most treatment services. Youth screened for mental health issues received fewer services. Sampled youth who did not participate in DPCC (no mental health screening or forensic evaluation) and youth who only received mental health screening had less successful probation outcomes.
Community-based treatment services included psychiatric treatment, substance abuse treatment, anger management, and counseling. In a follow-up period that averaged five-and-a-half years, sampled youth from the forensic evaluation group had a statistically significant reduction in arrests when compared to the non-participant and mental health-screened groups.
The report is available on the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority's website.
Evaluation of the 2013 Community Violence Prevention Program's Reentry Program
In 2013, the Reentry Program, one of three components of the state of Illinois' Community Violence Prevention Program (CVPP), provided services to youth and young adults on parole in 12 Chicago communities. Youth and young adults who committed nonviolent offenses were eligible for participation in the program, which was voluntary. Clients and case managers worked together to identify the services needed to aid clients in a successful transition back to their communities and develop a case plan. Services offered included mentoring, family support, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, job/vocational training and development, educational supports, and social/life skills development. The goals of the program were to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and increase prosocial engagement for the participants.
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) researchers conducted an exploratory study though interviews with 15 of the Reentry Program's case managers to learn how the program operated and make recommendations to change and enhance the program. The evaluation provided the following recommendations to the program: enhance training of case managers; improve data collection; use a standard screening and assessment tool; meet with clients prerelease; and maintain a professional relationship with clients.
The report is available on the ICJIA website.