Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development
(formerly Blueprints for Violence Prevention)
In 1996, the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV), at the University of Colorado at Boulder, with initial funding from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and with major long-term funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), designed and launched a national violence prevention initiative to identify and replicate violence prevention programs that are effective. The project, called Blueprints for Violence Prevention (today renamed Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development), identifies youth prevention and intervention programs that meet a strict scientific standard of program effectiveness. Program effectiveness is based upon an initial review by CSPV and a final review and recommendation from a distinguished Advisory Board, comprised of 6 to 8 experts in the field of youth development. The model and promising programs, called Blueprints, have been effective in reducing problem behaviors and promoting healthy youth development. To date, more than 1,250 programs have been reviewed, and the Center continues to look for programs which meet the selection criteria. As a result of the funding from OJJDP, the Blueprints Initiative became a comprehensive effort to provide communities with a set of demonstrated effective programs and the technical assistance and monitoring necessary to plan for and develop an effective violence intervention.
The Technical Assistance and Training Component of the Blueprints Initiative
A national dissemination effort for the Blueprints Series and a technical assistance and monitoring component to assist interested communities, agencies, and organizations in their effort to implement one or more Blueprints programs was funded by OJJDP in April, 1998. Under a Cooperative Agreement, training and technical assistance was provided over a two-year period to 42 sites selected by CSPV to implement one of eight Blueprints programs. This project ended May 31, 2002.
Two other Cooperative Agreements with OJJDP were initiated in December, 1998, and March 1, 2000, to facilitate a more expansive dissemination of the drug prevention Blueprints program, LifeSkills Training, by providing training and technical assistance, as well as program operation costs (curriculum materials), to selected school districts. Site selection occurred from 1999 to 2001, with the final sample including 105 sites and 432 schools. Sites were comprised of one to 24 schools, and sometimes included multiple school districts. Sites were located in urban, suburban, and rural areas and served students of varying socioeconomic status and racial/ethnic backgrounds. This project ended February, 2006.
In these three initiatives, CSPV contracted with the designers of the Blueprints program to provide the package of training and technical assistance, and Blueprints conducted a process evaluation to ensure program fidelity at each site. The technical assistance provided by CSPV early in the process included help with choosing a program and planning for program implementation. The technical assistance component delivered by the program designers provided expert assistance in implementing a Blueprints program including all training, on-site technical assistance visits to troubleshoot problems, and regular telephone consultation.
These initiatives provided information on implementation problems that cause many programs to fail. The major Blueprints objective was to build a body of knowledge about implementation by accumulating data on the Blueprints replication sites regarding problems encountered, attempted solutions, which worked or didn't work and why. We also collected useful data for screening potential replicators such as organizational capacity needed, funding stability, commitment, resources, etc., required for a high probability of success. These findings are reported in:
- Mihalic and Irwin, 2003
- Fagan and Mihalic, 2003
- Elliott and Mihalic, 2004
- Mihalic, 2004
- Mihalic, Fagan, and Argamaso, 2008
Evaluation Component of the Blueprints Initiative
In November, 2006, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded a four-year project to replicate and evaluate two of the Blueprints Promising programs -CASASTART and the Good Behavior Game. The hope was that a replication with successful program results would move these programs to the Model program list. CASASTART was replicated in middle schools in Baltimore, MD; Bridgeport, CT; Livingston, KY; McKeesport, PA; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; and Trenton, NJ. The Good Behavior Game was replicated in 36 first grade classrooms in Adams County, Colorado. The disseminating agency for each of these programs provided the expert training and technical assistance, while CSPV conducted a process and outcome evaluation. Unfortunately, neither project failed to replicate the success found in earlier trials.
Blueprints for Gang Prevention
A project with pass-through funding from the Centers for Disease Control to OJJDP began in October, 2008, to develop and experimentally test new gang prevention and intervention programs. Although the Blueprints programs have demonstrated effectiveness for reducing delinquency, violence, drug use, or a combination of these behaviors, there is no evidence that they specifically reduce gang membership or the delinquent and violent behavior of gang members. Whether these programs also have deterrent effects for gang members remains an open question. Gang experts disagree about the effectiveness of using these programs in gang prevention efforts because they view gangs as "qualitatively different" from other youth groups and gang members as "qualitatively different" from other delinquents. However, given the failure of gang control programs and their sometimes iatrogenic effects, it could be prudent to use Blueprint programs as an initial line of defense. Since these programs have not been shown to be effective for gang members, they need to be evaluated for that purpose and tailored to meet the specific needs of gang members and to be responsive to the uniqueness of the gang environment. This project is an effort to implement this strategy. After a careful review of all the Blueprints programs, Functional Family Therapy was chosen as the first to adapt for gang violence and evaluate.
Dissemination of LifeSkills Training
A project funded by Altria Client Services on behalf of Philip Morris USA, John Middleton Co., and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC has allowed CSPV to help school districts in 15 states to replicate the LifeSkills Training program with sufficient implementation supports to promote program fidelity and sustainability. The first cohort of sites will complete implementation in June, 2013; however, expansion into new districts is ongoing.