Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $750,000)
OJJDPs Field Initiated Research and Evaluation Program supports innovative and methodologically sound research and evaluation efforts that inform policy and practice consistent with OJJDPs mission to advance effective delinquency prevention and juvenile justice system interventions.
Researchers at Drexel University will examine the long-term outcomes and sustained impact of a pre-arrest diversion program designed to reduce the referral of youth by schools to the juvenile justice system across Philadelphia public schools. Previous research has indicated that youth referred to the juvenile justice system for school disciplinary infractions are at heightened risk for negative outcomes including increased recidivism, reduced academic success, and restricted academic and vocational opportunities. This project expands upon the initial evaluation of the first three years of program implementation under OJJDPs Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program. The evaluators will conduct a longitudinal assessment, with comparison of youth predating the diversion initiative who were arrested (school year 2013-2014, quasi-control group, n=1,234) with youth diverted within the first two years of the program (school years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, quasi-experimental group, n=958). Eligibility for the diversion program included students that were first-time offending youth (10 or older) who commit school-based minor misdemeanor or summary offenses (e.g., disorderly conduct, marijuana possession, weapon other than firearm). Proximity matching of diverted youth will be made with youth from the quasi-control group who meet eligibility requirement for diversion program.
This evaluation includes extensive analysis of individually linked, de-identified data from police (arrest records), schools (attendance, grades, achievement, subsequent disciplinary actions, graduation), and human services (participation in diversion services). There will be assessment of overall school safety, school-based arrest rates, recidivism rates, academic outcomes, and delivery of diversion services.
Findings from this evaluation are expected to inform replication efforts and impact policy and practice at the local, state and national levels. Dissemination will include practitioner-friendly reports highlighting project findings; research briefs and publications for juvenile justice practitioners, school administrators, and the public; and production of academic presentations and publications.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements- 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).
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