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Washington State Institute for Public Policy

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Found 623 results

Technical Report—The Relationship Between Initiative 502 and Reported Substance Use

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Bailey Ingraham, Amani Rashid - September 2023

In November 2012, Washington State voters passed Initiative 502 (I-502), which legalized limited possession, private use, and commercial sales of cannabis for adults. In this report, using national survey data between 2004 to 2019, we compared changes in the rates of reported cannabis, alcohol, and other substance use in Washington relative to comparable states after the enactment of I-502 and the advent of a licensed retail market. We do not find evidence that the enactment of I-502 or the advent of cannabis retail sales in Washington significantly changed reported adult or youth cannabis use, alcohol use, or other substance use compared to non-legalizing states.


Student Achievement and the Pandemic: Analysis of Test Scores, Earnings, and Recovery Interventions

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Julia Cramer, Kara Krnacik - September 2023

WSIPP receives funding from the legislature to conduct research on K-12 education topics that are relevant in Washington. In this report, we examine academic achievement among public school students in Washington during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, we estimate how student math and English Language Arts (ELA) achievement changed during the pandemic. Next, we predict long-term effects on future earnings, and finally, we discuss several interventions that may help students recover academically.

Overall, we found that average test scores in the 2022 school year were 0.20 standard deviations (SD) lower than average test scores before the pandemic. We observed larger declines in math test scores than ELA scores, and we estimated the largest effect in middle school grades, though effects in elementary and high school grades are also notable. Further, we found larger test score declines among female students, students of color, and low-income students compared to their male, White, Asian, and economically advantaged peers.

We estimate that a 0.20 SD decline in test scores is associated with an average $32,000 decrease in future earnings per student compared to students before the pandemic. Finally, we reviewed the impact of interventions like tutoring, academically-focused summer school programs, and double-dose classes on student achievement. We estimate that on average, these programs increase test scores between 0.03 and 0.39 SD. These interventions may help offset the decline in scores we observe and help students recover academically in the post-pandemic period.


Washington State's Functional Family Therapy Program: Outcome Evaluation

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Morgan Spangler, Colin Gibson - June 2023

In Washington State, Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is one of the many evidence-based programs made available to court-involved youth on probation. In 2022, WSIPP was contracted to evaluate the effect of the program on recidivism.

Using administrative data, this study examined the likelihood of recidivism for youth participating in FFT relative to eligible youth who did not participate in FFT. In addition, we evaluated for whom, and under what conditions, the program was most effective.

Our findings indicate that participation in FFT is associated with an increased likelihood of recidivism, when compared to the average “treatment-as-usual” that youth in the juvenile courts typically receive. On average, youth who started FFT were 10.1 percentage points more likely to recidivate than youth in the comparison group. Of those who recidivated, there were no significant differences found in the rates of felony or violent felony recidivism. The association between participation in FFT and recidivism did not vary based on youth characteristics, geography, living situation, or competency of therapist.


Involuntary Treatment for Substance Abuse: Client Outcomes

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Marna Miller, Morgan Spangler, Nathan Adams, Heather Grob - June 2023

In 2016, HB 1713 (Ricky’s Law) modified the Involuntary Treatment Act. The Act integrated crisis response for mental health and substance abuse (SUD), created a new classification of mental health professionals, and mandated the creation of Secure Withdrawal and Management and Stabilization facilities (SWMS) to serve those detained for SUD.

The law also directed WSIPP to evaluate the effects of the law. We evaluated the outcomes for those detained to SWMS, comparing them to people never detained but who had received voluntary detoxification treatment in the same period.

In the six months following treatment, SWMS clients were less likely to:

  • Receive SUD treatment;
  • Experience homelessness;
  • Be treated in the emergency department or be hospitalized;
  • Receive any state financial supports.

We found no significant difference in rates of mental health treatment, arrest, or employment.

Our benefit-cost analysis found that, compared to the detox group, SWMS returns $0.19 per dollar spent. We estimate that benefits will exceed costs 6% of the time. That is, compared to the detox-only group, the cost of the program exceeds the benefits we are able to estimate.


Internet Stings and Operation Net Nanny

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Corey Whichard, Katelyn Kelley - June 2023

In May 2021, the Washington Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct a study of Washington State Patrol’s (WSP) Operation Net Nanny (“Net Nanny”). Net Nanny is a type of undercover law enforcement activity known as an “internet sting operation.” WSP detectives designed Net Nanny to arrest adults who use the internet to solicit sexual activity with minors.

The legislative assignment outlined two objectives for WSIPP’s study. First, the study must describe the current research on internet sting operations. Second, the study must include an analysis that compares the characteristics of individuals convicted through Net Nanny with individuals convicted of child sex offenses through other avenues.

To address the first objective, we reviewed the academic literature on internet sting operations. However, we found limited research on this topic. It is unclear whether these operations are effective at deterring or reducing crime.

To address the second objective, we compiled administrative data on all adults in Washington State who were convicted of child sex crimes since Net Nanny has been active. We used this data to compare two groups: (1) individuals arrested via Net Nanny; and (2) individuals who were arrested through traditional police tactics. We found that individuals in both groups exhibit similar demographic characteristics and criminal history. On average, across these specific measures, individuals convicted through Net Nanny resemble people convicted of completed sexual crimes against minors.


A 10-Year Review of Non-Medical Cannabis Policy, Revenues, and Expenditures

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Bailey Ingraham, Amani Rashid - June 2023

In November 2012, Washington State voters passed Initiative 502 (I-502), which legalized limited possession, private use, and commercial sales of cannabis for adults. In this report, we describe the evolution of cannabis-related policy, revenues, and expenditures over the past decade.

We first describe the implementation of I-502 and summarize major cannabis-related policy milestones through the fiscal year 2022. In addition, we detail aspects of the Washington cannabis market structure and regulatory rules and compare components of non-medical cannabis (NMC) legalization nationwide. Second, we describe cannabis-related sales, excise tax revenues, and spending of those revenues over the last decade. In fiscal year 2022, cannabis retailers sold nearly $1.4 billion in cannabis products, and just over half a billion dollars were generated in excise tax revenues. Most of these revenues are transferred to the general fund and state basic health plan trust, and less than 20% goes to state agencies for prevention, healthcare, research, and cannabis industry oversight. Since fiscal year 2016, this distribution of expenditures has not significantly changed, although the total dollar amount of cannabis-related revenue and expenditure has nearly tripled.


Early Achievers Evaluation: Access to Providers Meeting Early Achievers Quality Standards

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Amani Rashid, Rebecca Goodvin, Kara Krnacik, Nathan Adams - December 2022

In the Early Start Act of 2015, the Washington State Legislature required child care and early learning providers who serve non-school-aged children and receive state subsidies to participate in Early Achievers (EA), the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). The Early Achievers program was intended to improve access to high-quality care for low-income families and other groups.

In this report, we examine low-income family access to subsidized child care, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Programming (ECEAP), or Head Start programming that has met Early Achiever’s quality standards as of 2019, at the end of the initial Early Achievers roll out. Our estimates indicate that, on average in Washington in 2019, there are roughly three low-income children nearby for each high-quality publicly supported child care/early learning “slot.” Across the state, we find considerable variation in local access to child care that has met EA quality standards. However, we do not find large differences in average access across the following neighborhood comparisons: urban/rural regionality, majority/minority BIPOC population makeup, or higher/lower vulnerability designation.

This report—along with a concurrent analysis of benefits and costs of EA—concludes WSIPP’s Early Achievers evaluation series.


Early Achievers Evaluation Report Four: Analysis of Benefits and Costs

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Rebecca Goodvin, Amani Rashid, Kara Krnacik - December 2022

In the Early Start Act of 2015, the Washington State Legislature required child care and early learning providers who serve non-school-aged children and receive state subsidies to participate in Early Achievers (EA), the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). This legislation also directed WSIPP to examine the relationship between EA quality ratings and long-term outcomes for children who participate in state-subsidized child care and early learning programs. WSIPP was required to produce annual reports to the legislature from December 2019 through December 2022; the final report must include a benefit-cost analysis of EA.

We previously found that attending a site meeting EA quality standards in the pre-kindergarten year was associated with better outcomes in kindergarten, compared with attending a rated site that did not yet meet standards. In this fourth report, we focus on projected monetary benefits tied to those outcomes. On average, attending an EA quality Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) or child care center may return benefits of approximately $4,300 to $7,000 per child over the course of the lifespan. Analysis of aligned program costs was limited by data availability.

This report—along with a concurrent report examining low-income families’ access to publicly funded EA quality child care and early learning—concludes WSIPP’s Early Achievers evaluation series.


Legal Financial Obligations in Washington State: Final Report

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Paige Wanner, Morgan Spangler, Nathan Adams, Devin Bales - December 2022

The 2021 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to study legal financial obligations (LFOs). This is the second report in a two-part series.

For the final report, WSIPP used administrative data from multiple Washington State sources to describe the level of criminal LFO impositions, adjustments, and payments made annually at all court levels.

Additionally, WSIPP completed the following:

  • Reviewed Washington State policies implemented since December 2021;
  • Discussed court budgets and the flow of LFO dollars through the criminal justice system;
  • Described the level of funding attributed to LFO accounts and earmarked for use in programming; and
  • Described legislation and policy changes completed by other states that aim to delink court funding from the collection of LFOs.

We found that available LFO data are limited. As a result, patterns in the data over time cannot be identified. Further, the data do not allow us to trace dollars from the collection to expenditure. More consistent data collection and reporting across courts may assist efforts to identify patterns over time in the future. A preliminary report covering LFO background, state statutes that impose LFOs, and a 50-state review of court funding and LFOs was released in December 2021 and can be found here.


Wilderness Therapy Programs: Stakeholder Perspectives in Washington

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Julia Cramer, Colin Gibson - December 2022

This is the second report in a two-part series focused on wilderness therapy programs. Wilderness therapy combines therapeutic elements with outdoor activities in a natural setting to help support individuals with a range of behavioral, emotional, and substance use issues.

In 2021, the Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to research wilderness therapy programs in the context of behavioral health treatment and prevention. As part of this assignment, we were asked to assess the “interest and likelihood of support” for wilderness therapy programs among interest groups like “state prevention coalitions and tribes.” We interviewed ten individuals representing a variety of stakeholder perspectives in Washington.

Generally, we found that interview respondents view wilderness therapy as potentially beneficial for the individuals they serve or those who live in their communities. However, we found that most respondents had concerns about cost, safety, access, and the lack of information about programs. Respondents also expressed wanting legislators to be aware of issues related to program flexibility, equitable access, and ongoing outreach if they consider policy decisions related to wilderness therapy in the future.

The first report on this topic was published in June 2022 and can be found here.