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Scaling-Up Evidence-Based Programs Using a Public Funding Stream - a Randomized Trial of Functional Family Therapy for Court-Involved Youth

NCJ Number
Prevention Science Volume: 19 Issue: 7 Dated: October 2018 Pages: 939-953
Date Published
October 2018
14 pages
Since The Affordable Care Act expanded access to Medicaid programs and required them to provide essential health benefits, which can include prevention services, this study assessed the costs and benefits to using Medicaid funding to implement a well-known evidence-based program, Functional Family Therapy (FFT), with a sample of juvenile justice-involved youth.

The study also provides a rigorous test of FFT accommodated for a contemporary urban population that is gang-at-risk or gang-involved. A total of 129 predominantly minority and low-income families were randomly assigned to receive an enhanced version of FFT or an alternative family therapy. Data from pre- and post-intervention interviews with youth and parents, court records of contacts with the justice system and residential placements, official records of community services, and the costs of placements and services are summarized. The intervention was implemented with fidelity to the FFT model using Medicaid funding. Treatment and control subjects received a wide range of community and residential services in addition to FFT. A higher percentage of treatment subjects than controls received services following random assignment, but the cost per youth served was lower for treatment than control youth, primarily because control youth were more often placed in residential facilities. Recidivism during the 18-month follow-up period was lower for FFT than for control youth. The combination of cost savings realized from avoiding more costly services and the expected future savings due to recidivism reduction suggests the expanded use of evidence-based practices using public funding streams such as Medicaid is warranted.40 references (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: October 1, 2018