Are the Phases/Levels in Your Program Meeting the Expected Metrics?

Written by Rosie Medina, Director of Special Programs, El Paso County Juvenile Probation (TX)
JDTCs have a collective responsibility for gathering, analyzing, and utilizing data to manage programs and contribute to informed decision-making. While daunting at first, a clear process encourages teams to engage in continuous quality improvement action planning. Recidivism, drug testing results, and retention rates are not enough to determine whether program processes are adhering to defined logic models/program designs. Many programs are designed with phases/levels and specific time periods for their completion. Has your program looked at individual youth and phase/level data to determine if the program is meeting the desired targets? Follow these steps to identify roadblocks contributing to stagnation or rapid movement in order to recalibrate program design.
Step 1: Collecting Data. The beginning/end date of each phase for every participant and number of days in each phase is crucial. If you are not collecting this data, start now. 
Snapshot example image for the beginning/end date of each phase for every participant and number of days in each phase for juvenile drug treatment courts
Step 2: Interpreting evidence based results. Minimally once per quarter, ask yourself:
  • Are we implementing the program as designed?
  • Where are we in comparison to the pre-determined benchmark?
  • Where are the gaps?
  • What are the contributing factors?
Cumulatively look at your data, formulate the average per phase/level, then compare it to your established benchmarks. 
Snapshot example image of a clustered column graph showing the average number of day per level versus program design benchmarks for juvenile drug treatment courts

Step 3: Formulating action plans. Aligning data to goals/objectives is needed. For example, our program was making subjective decisions when determining phase/levels promotions. As a result, our youth were remaining in phases 50% longer than the benchmark, thus increasing their overall stay in the program. Subjectivity was reduced by incorporating level specific checklists outlining the desired outcomes of level objectives. Only after checklist completion are youth eligible to be promoted to another level. 

Step 4: Monitoring the implementation of the action plans. By repeating the same steps on a quarterly basis, your team can closely monitor and implement changes to determine whether progress is being made to align with goals. Please note that it may take a year if not longer to see noticeable differences on the impact of your changes. However, monitoring progress will serve as a gauge to advise your team as to whether the program is moving toward the desired direction.

If you are interested in reviewing a copy of El Paso County's phase structure, contact Eloisa Chaparro at 

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