Using SIF funding, Third Sector conducted a feasibility assessment that supported Marion & Multnomah Counties (Oregon) in the development of analytical tools to be used for the design of a potential evidence-based intervention and to structure an outcomes-based contract with state partners to improve the outcomes of youth on probation at risk of out-of-home placement.
Sub-Recipient: Marion County & Multnomah County
Marion County (“Marion”) is Oregon’s fifth most populous county, and has been recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance for collaborative work in the field of prisoner re-entry. The county has meaningful experience with evidence-based strategies and partnerships involving public sector agencies, faith organizations, nonprofits, businesses, and elected leaders. Multnomah County (“Multnomah”) is the most populous county in Oregon, and has been at the forefront of innovative public safety initiatives, which include integrating a number of evidence-based services while serving as one of five model sites around the country participating in the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative.
Both counties serve probation youth at risk of out-of-home placement with complex needs that cannot be adequately addressed using the existing continuum of county resources. The PFS initiative strives to explore a new service model for these youth and their families that would serve as an alternative to county or state out-of-home programs and facilities. In partnership with state government partners, such an intervention would be designed to reduce the length of stay and criminal referrals. Broadly, the model would address the whole person by focusing on educational, health, and social/emotional outcomes, and other factors including: parent skill building, family engagement, collaborative and customized treatment, and trauma-informed care interventions.
Motivation for Exploring Pay for Success
Both counties recognized the challenges of scarce resources and annual budgeting cycles to fully supporting critical multi-year social services. With lessons learned from the SIF Award, the counties wanted to pioneer alternative funding strategies that use evidence-based practices to connect public funds to program outcomes rather than outputs. The counties shared the goal of using evidence-based models that could be replicated locally as well as across systems statewide. Whether it is juvenile justice or other public service areas, both governments wish to incorporate lessons learned from the study to improve internal capacity and data analytics, and various executive, administrative, and departmental processes.
Third Sector led the PFS feasibility assessment to explore the formation of an alternative juvenile justice program that could leverage state-level funding to create a more holistic and community-based approach for probation youth at risk of home removal. The engagement included the following key work streams: data access and analysis, target population identification, intervention assessment, economic & end payer analyses, legal & regulatory landscaping, and funder development.
Findings and Insights
Through the PFS feasibility assessment, Third Sector found that the counties demonstrated promising PFS readiness in the use of existing data systems, and specifically defining the target population and its needs. We also documented the existing costs incurred by the state and counties associated with (i) detention, (ii) country residential programs, and (iii) state program/facility placements, inclusive of social and administrative costs associated with criminal referrals and victimizations. In doing so, the counties engaged the Oregon Youth Authority and other state partners in quantifying the potential upside of a new service for probation youth and families, and exploring strategies to fund it.
The Feasibility Assessment enabled the counties to:
- Define the Target Population – Third Sector identified the risk criteria at intake of probation youths that are most likely to be removed from the home and would benefit from an alternate intense, in-home intervention. These criteria, which were different than what was initially assumed, were focused on needs of youth and families and tied to negative and costly outcomes for government.
- Develop a Cost Basis for Outcomes – Third Sector assessed the negative outcomes of the target population that are the costliest for the counties and state to address. By exploring how public dollars fund placements and the processing of criminal referrals, stakeholders were able to understand which levels of government would benefit the most from diverting certain out-of-home placements. The analysis serves as a basis to develop a potential funding mechanism contingent on successful outcomes.
- Establish Data and Performance Requirements – The government is now equipped with the appropriate risk, outcome, cost, and performance metrics to solicit a community-based intervention provider to serve the target population. The counties strive to work with state partners to scale lessons learned to better serve probation youth in a cost-effective manner.
- Expand the Culture of Data & Evidence in Policy-making – Each county continued building its efforts to shape evidence-based practices in criminal justice and other policy areas.
Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. led the feasibility assessment
National League of Cities provided project support