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Past Projects

OnCare Juvenile Justice Project Program Evaluation (2018)

The Onondaga County, NY System of Care (OnCare), is a recipient of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) System of Care Expansion Grant. With this funding, they have implemented the OnCare Juvenile Justice Project (OJJP) to develop a coordinated system of behavioral and community supports to youth (ages 12-18) with serious emotional disturbance involved in the criminal justice system. This project seeks to increase screening for behavioral health needs and increase access to behavioral health services to address the mental and emotional health needs of targeted youth, while reducing recidivism in the justice system. 

Hezel Associates was hired to conduct a targeted evaluation of the program to inform service expansion planning. Hezel Associates’ study focused on the efficiency of program processes (including the intake/referral process, case conferencing, and discharge process) and the impact of service delivery on youth outcomes (recidivism, mental and emotional health). 

Performance of processes was identified through the (a) analysis of existing program data (e.g., rates of referral, assessment, engagement, and discharge; episode of care length; and evidence of formalized partnerships with community stakeholders); (b) review of program documents (e.g., brochures and outreach materials, policies, etc.); and (c) focus groups with staff, family members and youth. Youth outcomes were identified through the analysis of existing program data and youth and caregiver focus groups. An explanatory sequential mixed method design was applied. Program documents and data reviewed helped inform the development of focus group questions for youth, caregivers, and staff. Intentionally designed, youth played a prominent role in providing input that is resulting in changes to programming that directly impacts them. Results of this study were presented to project leadership in conjunction with a facilitated planning session that explored opportunities for data-driven project expansion.