Heart Foundation

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Research & Evaluation

A growing movement in social work is toward a more empirical selection of therapies and interventions because, to be effective, you have to know what works. Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience and ethics, and client preferences and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services.

To keep pace with this trend, HEART collaboratively works with researchers and clients to identify what works, for whom and under what conditions. This approach ensures that our treatments and services will have the most effective outcomes.

Why do We Need Research and Evaluation?

  • It informs our professional practice. Through research and evaluation we can:Assess the needs and resources of people in their environments
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of our services in meeting our client's needs
  • Demonstrate relative costs and benefits of services
  • Advance professional development in light of changing contexts
  • Understand the impact of legislation and social policy on the clients and communities we serve

Independent research and evaluation helps HEART develop best practices to maintain high quality and benchmarks multiple organizations can use.

In 2012, an independent evaluation was conducted on the Crossroads Program, HEART's collaborative adolescent diversion program with Buffalo City Court:

2012 Crossroads Evaluation

Crossroads was implemented in 2009 to address the unique needs and challenges of treating court-involved young adults. The program was designed to break the cycle between criminality and re-arrest rates by providing a therapeutic environment, structured case management, education assistance, with immediate supports and on-site resources.

The program targets young adults, ages 16-19 years of age, appearing for allegations of crimes such as stealing, vagrancy, minor drug offenses, non-violent felonies, and misdemeanors that have contributed significantly to their current criminal case (excluding crimes of violence, sexual abuse and drug sales).

Recovery Solutions (RS) was contracted to conduct a comprehensive evaluation that utilized both quantitative and qualitative measures to effectively evaluate grant outcomes and use of the 10 Key Components of Problem Solving Courts. RS analyzed data collected over the first three years and provided recommendations.

An industry leader in providing comprehensive evaluations, RS was involved in evaluating many of the country's first pilot treatment courts, including veteran-specific treatment courts, co-occurring disorders courts and trauma specific programs.

A total of 1,141 participants entered Crossroads during its first three years.  This surpassed expectations and is a testament to the need for juvenile justice intervention. RS identified several key qualitative and quantitative findings:

Participants who were referred to the HEART Foundation had a 7 percent higher successful completion rate and a 6 percent lower failure rate versus those who received treatment from other treatment providers.

  • Crossroads had a high number of participants successfully completing or remaining active in the program (70%)
  • Males, ages 16 and 17, had statistically significantly higher rates of failure.
  • Both grant period and pilot periods showed age of first arrest to most likely be between 16 and 19 years of age. However, during the grant period participants who received their first arrest between the ages of 11-15 increased significantly (11% over the pilot period).

The evaluation showed Crossroads met its established measures of success and provided 10 program recommendations to strengthen the program, which includes an integrated workforce development program.



New York State should pass legislation to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 so that youth who are charged with a crime are treated in more age appropriate manner.


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