YouthZone services and programs have been increasingly successful with reducing behavior problems that can lead to legal trouble, according to a recent independent 3-year evaluation. Even though youth being arrested in Colorado now have more serious charges against them than ten years ago, YouthZone’s strength-based therapeutic interventions are proven effective for youth diversion from the juvenile justice system.
At YouthZone, each client’s intake includes a YouthZone Screening. This assessment measures five factors that are statistically sensitive to program effectiveness with youth problems, program completion, and legal reoffending.
The screening tool scores Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Use; Optimism and Problem Solving; School and Community Involvement; Delinquency and Aggression; and Self-Deprecation. Post screenings are completed for each youth to measure significant improvements.
For the 2017-2019 evaluation, youths charged with similar offenses showed improvement in most areas. Improvement was similar for youngsters of different ages, boys and girls, and clients of different ethnicities.
The next table compares 2014-2016 to 2017-2019 client progress concerning youth thinking, attitudes, and behavior that can lead to legal trouble. Three Youthzone key scales were more successful in predicting program benefit, completion and avoidance of reoffending. Two scales indicated a need for program improvement: Delinquency and Aggression and Self Deprecation.
Delinquency and Aggression refers to youth’s antisocial outlook toward rules and other people. It encompasses their readiness to engage in verbal and physical conflict and their tolerance of substance use.
Self-Deprecation shows each youth’s perception of themselves as a victim of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. This scale also reveals a youth’s tolerance for substance use and their thoughts and plans about suicide.
The recent evaluation established that youthful clients gained assets and reduced risk behaviors while receiving Youthzone services. Not all clients made these gains and not all clients improved their adjustment equally in all programs.
More needs to be done to strengthen programs to increase the benefits for all enrolled young people. Investments in programs, staff development, and supervision may improve results for youth.
The evaluators alco compared Youthzone program results with programs from other Colorado communities. “Youthzone has adopted evaluation practices to assist in building evidence-based services. The administration, case managers, the organization’s board and the community can focus on where additional attention can improve outcomes.”
Click here to read the complete evaluation report.