Crosscut on research-based interventions in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems

June 29 Crosscut article by Judy Lightfoot

June 29 Crosscut article by Judy Lightfoot

Washington State is leading innovation in research-based practices in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  As this article from Crosscut details, resources are being shifted away from dated interventions such as Scared Straight -- which produce poor or null outcomes while costing taxpayers millions -- and toward evidence-based and research-based interventions, as defined in House Bill 2536.  Drawing on partnerships with research institutes and groups across the nation, including Frontiers of Innovation, a research collaborative based at Harvard University's Center for the Developing Child, Washington is looking to use science to develop better policy and practice for child welfare and juvenile justice interventions.  The quote from the article that really resonated with us was:

In short, refusing to cultivate kids — whether it’s turning our backs on them, imposing harsh penalties or trying to ‘scare them straight’ — is not a best practice, and the benefit-cost ratio is dismal.

So right!

One of the featured organizations, Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, successfully reduced out-of-school suspensions by 85% in one year, and tripled its graduation rate since first implementing trauma-informed practices in 2012.  In fact, Lincoln Alternative was the inspiration for our partnership with Rogers High School, which achieved a 35% reduction in out-of-school suspensions in its first year!

Finally, this article perfectly illustrates why we are working with Children's Administration and our new subsidiary the Family Impact Network to bring practices like these home to eastern Washington and introduce new efficiencies in the local child welfare system.  It is only through key partnerships like this, which bring scientific knowledge into conversations with on-the-ground communities, that we will be able to reach our goal of reducing the number of children in foster care in eastern Washington by 50% in five years!

Download the full PDF of the Crosscut article below: