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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
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Parenting with Love and Limits

Juvenile Justice
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2018.  Literature review updated June 2017.
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Parenting with Love and Limits (PLL) is a therapeutic model for families of children with behavioral diagnoses, substance use disorders, and delinquency. The PLL model has been used as a juvenile justice program to divert youth from traditional juvenile justice services to family-oriented rehabilitation and to provide aftercare treatment in the community. The diversion component consists of group parent training classes that use various parenting and family therapy modules. In the included studies, participants attended 6 to 40 hours of sessions over 1.5 to 5 months, on average. The aftercare component consists of individual therapy before a juvenile offender is released, parent training sessions, and family therapy once the juvenile offender is released. In the included studies, aftercare participants attended sessions two to four times per week over three months, on average.

The studies in this meta-analysis compared PLL to usual probation and mental health services.
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2017). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $6,169 Benefits minus costs $21,103
Participants $767 Benefit to cost ratio $8.41
Others $15,573 Chance the program will produce
Indirect $1,442 benefits greater than the costs 93 %
Total benefits $23,951
Net program cost ($2,848)
Benefits minus cost $21,103
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime $5,630 $0 $15,381 $2,810 $23,821
Labor market earnings associated with high school graduation $436 $961 $448 $0 $1,846
Health care associated with educational attainment $195 ($53) ($213) $98 $26
Costs of higher education ($93) ($141) ($42) ($47) ($323)
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($1,419) ($1,419)
Totals $6,169 $767 $15,573 $1,442 $23,951
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $2,526 2009 Present value of net program costs (in 2017 dollars) ($2,848)
Comparison costs $0 2009 Cost range (+ or -) 10 %
The per-participant program cost estimate is based on the per-participant cost to the state for Parenting with Love and Limits in Idaho. The comparison group cost is an average of clinic-based therapy and intensive community-based therapy. Both cost estimates are described in Sterrett-Hong, E.M., Karam, E., & Kiaer, L. (2017). Statewide implementation of Parenting with Love and Limits among youth with co-existing internalizing and externalizing functional impairments reduces return to service rates and treatment costs. Administration and Policy in Mental Health.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

^^WSIPP does not include this outcome when conducting benefit-cost analysis for this program.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Treatment age No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes(ES) and standard errors(SE) used in the benefit - cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
Crime 16 3 327 -0.211 0.116 18 -0.211 0.116 28 -0.344 0.018
Externalizing behavior symptoms^^ 16 1 19 -0.268 0.326 18 n/a n/a n/a -0.724 0.031

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Early, K.W., Chapman, S.F., & Hand, G.A. (2013). Family-focused juvenile reentry services: A quasi-experimental design evaluation of recidivism outcomes. OJJDP Journal of Juvenile Justice, 2(2), 1-22.

Karam, E.A., Sterrett, E.M., & Kiaer, L. (2015). The integration of family and group therapy as an alternative to juvenile incarceration: A quasi-experimental evaluation using Parenting with Love and Limits. Family Process.

Sells, S.P., Early, K.W., & Smith, T.E. (2011). Reducing adolescent oppositional and conduct disorders: An experimental design using the Parenting with Love and Limits model. Professional Issues in Criminal Justice, 6(3-4), 9-30.