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The 2017 Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to conduct a study of a policy allowing eligible foster youth to receive foster care services between the ages of 18 and 21. We studied numerous outcomes for youth “aging out” of foster care as they transitioned to adulthood. Between 2006 and 2018, the percentage of youth receiving extended foster care (EFC) services increased from 5% to 80%. Compared to non-participants, the average youth participating in EFC was more likely to be employed and have greater earnings. EFC also significantly reduced homelessness, receipt of public assistance, use of medical emergency departments, reduced diagnosis of substance abuse and treatment, and criminal convictions. We also found that EFC reduced the involvement of offspring in the child welfare system. Our benefit-cost analysis found that the EFC program produces $3.95 of lifetime benefits for each $1 invested. Of the total benefits, 40% represents savings and revenue that would accrue to state, local, and federal governments. In a survey of other states, we found that almost all states provide some foster care services after youth turn 18, although eligibility criteria vary.
In 2019, WSIPP updated the full portfolio of juvenile justice meta-analyses, benefit-cost analyses, and the resulting evidence classifications. This work aligned with WSIPP’s ninth update of the Children’s Services Inventory (“the inventory”), published in December 2019. The inventory describes the research evidence and benefit-cost findings for a variety of programs in the areas of juvenile justice, child welfare, and children’s mental health, and classifies each program according to its level of evidence and benefit-cost findings. WSIPP’s update to the inventory led to changes in the evidence classification for several juvenile justice programs operating in Washington State. Four programs previously classified as either evidence-based or research-based are now promising or null. This resource guide serves as a companion document to the inventory and as a resource for Washington State policymakers and practitioners to understand how changes in the meta-analyses and benefit-cost analyses of juvenile justice programs resulted in changes to evidence classifications. In the guide, WSIPP explains the specific changes made to all meta-analyses and benefit-cost analyses of juvenile justice programs in 2019. Then, the guide provides details for several programs eligible for Washington State funding for youth involved in the juvenile courts or committed to a Juvenile Rehabilitation facility. For each eligible program, the guide reviews relevant changes to the content in the specific meta-analysis, changes to the calculations of meta-analytic results, changes made to the costs of the program, and changes made to WSIPP’s standard benefit-cost model. While WSIPP classifies a broad array of programs, and these evidence classifications are subject to change over time, this guide focuses specifically on changes to classifications for juvenile justice programs eligible for state dollars.
Over the last 20 years, the Washington State Legislature has taken a number of steps to develop an “evidence-based” juvenile justice system. Through collaboration between the research community and policymakers, reforms have facilitated a significant shift in court practices and characteristics of the populations of court-involved youth. Recent findings suggest that a new era of juvenile justice research is needed to identify how changes in justice-involved populations and court practices may affect the long-term effectiveness of juvenile court reforms. This report provides an overview of the evolution of legislative and administrative policies, justice-involved populations, and juvenile justice research over the last two decades. The report concludes with a discussion about pathways forward for Washington State’s policymakers and research community.
The 2012 Legislature passed E2SHB 2536 with the intention that “prevention and intervention services delivered to children and juveniles in the areas of mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice be primarily evidence-based and research-based, and it is anticipated that such services will be provided in a manner that is culturally competent.” The bill directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) and the University of Washington Evidence-Based Practice Institute (UW) to publish descriptive definitions and prepare an inventory of evidence-based, research-based, and promising practices and services, and to periodically update the inventory as more practices are identified. This is the ninth update to the initial inventory published in 2012. The accompanying report describes our standard process for evaluating and classifying research evidence, the process for adding new programs to the inventory, and the reasons that program classifications may change. Programs that are new to the inventory or have a revised classification based on current evidence are identified in the report.
Initiative 502 (I-502) legalized recreational cannabis for adults in Washington State. The law directs a portion of cannabis revenues to be spent on substance abuse prevention and treatment services that have been demonstrated to be effective. Specifically, state law requires at least 85% of programs funded by cannabis revenues to be evidence-based or research-based, and up to 15% to be promising practices. In this inventory, we rate the research evidence for programs intended for the prevention or treatment of youth substance use, and we identify those specifically effective for reducing marijuana use. The 2018 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to update this inventory. This is the fourth update in the series.
The 2018 Washington State Legislature assigned WSIPP to examine the per-student cost of required textbooks and course materials and the use of open educational resources (OER) at public four-year universities across the state. OER is an alternative model for course materials and relies on content that is free to use, alter, and distribute for educational purposes. In this report, we estimate the average cost of required items, the average cost of required materials per course, and the average cost of required materials for students earning a bachelor’s degree. We found that, on average, students completing a bachelor’s degree at public universities in Washington were expected to spend approximately $2,734 on required textbooks and course materials. We could not precisely measure the prevalence of OER use in Washington’s public four-year universities, because OER use has not been tracked systematically. Using data from campus book stores, we found that 26% of undergraduate courses required $0 of course materials. Relying on interviews, a review of available research, and additional analyses, we examined several potential practices for supporting OER use in four-year universities. We found that grant programs like Washington’s current OER Grant Pilot Program were a potentially cost-effective approach to supporting wider OER adoption in four-year universities.
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, the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). This legislation also directed WSIPP to examine the relationship between Early Achievers quality ratings and long-term outcomes for children who participate in state-subsidized child care and early learning programs. WSIPP is required to produce annual reports to the legislature from December 2019 through December 2022, and the final report must include a benefit-cost analysis of Early Achievers. In this first report we present background information from a review of QRIS programs and evaluations in other states, and detail Early Achievers implementation, key program features, and summary ratings data. We also outline WSIPP’s research questions, planned research design, and data sources, and address study limitations. Our review of the national QRIS child outcome evaluation literature indicates that other states have found limited, inconsistent relationships between quality ratings and outcomes for children. However, this body of research is in an early stage, which limits our confidence in the resulting conclusions. WSIPP’s next report in the Early Achievers evaluation series, due in December 2020, will address the impact of Early Achievers during children’s pre-kindergarten year on outcomes in kindergarten, including kindergarten readiness assessed using the WaKIDS.
The WSIPP Board of Directors and the 2019 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to update previous findings on early childhood education. In 2013, the legislature directed WSIPP to conduct an outcome evaluation and return on investment analysis of the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP). As part of that assignment, WSIPP produced a report summarizing the national research literature on the long-term effectiveness of early childhood education programs and conducting a benefit-cost analysis for these programs. This report updates those previous findings and presents new findings for three types of programs: 1) state early childhood education programs targeting low-income children, 2) universal state early childhood education programs, and 3) Head Start. We find that increases in academic achievement for participants in these programs are likely to produce long-term monetary benefits that outweigh the costs.
The 2018 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct a statewide study on the needs of girls and young women involved in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, referred to in the legislation as “dually involved females.” This study compared dually involved females to dually involved males and to females with only juvenile justice involvement in criminal justice system involvement, mental health and substance abuse diagnoses and treatment, medical care, employment, homelessness, teen birth, and use of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. The study includes a survey of other states regarding systems to address and treat the needs of dually involved youth.
The 2018 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct additional cannabis research, supplemental to the ongoing benefit-cost evaluation of cannabis legalization authorized by Initiative 502 in 2012. As part of the new assignments, WSIPP was directed to examine effective methods for suppressing unlicensed cultivation and distribution of marijuana in jurisdictions with legal markets. We found very little evidence on that topic. Instead, we identified numerous factors that could contribute to the survival of the illicit marijuana market in the context of legalization, such as continuing prohibitions in other states and regulations that reduce the competitive advantage of the legal market. We examined key regulatory features in the nine states with licensed non-medical cannabis supply systems and found that states varied widely in the level of restriction imposed on legal supply systems. We conclude by outlining a practical strategy for monitoring illicit market reductions as the state’s approach to legalization develops.