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Model Programs Guide Glossary of Terms

Adjudication: Judicial determination (judgment) that a juvenile is responsible for the delinquency or status offense that is charged in a petition or other charging document.

Aftercare services: Reintegrative services that prepare juveniles in residential placement for reentry into the community by establishing the necessary collaborative arrangements with the community to ensure the delivery of prescribed services and supervision.

Alternatives to detention: Alternative services provided to a youth in the community to avoid placement in a detention facility.

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA): A method for analyzing the differences in the means of two or more groups. Specifically, this procedure partitions the total variation in the dependent variable into two components: between-group variation and within-group variation. It allows researchers to determine if the differences between a control group and a treatment group are attributed to the independent variable or treatment.

Anticipatory Benefits (Evidence Rating Element): Occurs when the effects of a program are observed prior to the implementation of the program, generally because the target population believes the program has already started. This element is reviewed along with diffusion and displacement on the Scoring Instrument. These elements are typically considered in evaluations of community-level crime prevention efforts. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Antisocial behavior: A pervasive pattern of behavior that displays disregard for and violation of the rights of others, societal mores, or the law (such as deceitfulness, irritability, consistent irresponsibility, lack of remorse, failure to conform to social norms).

Arrest: Hold time in legal custody, either at the scene of a crime or as a result of investigations. Arrest also can be the result of a complaint filed by a third party, an outstanding warrant, or a revocation of probation or parole.

Assessment: Evaluation or appraisal of a candidate's suitability for placement in a specific treatment modality/setting and the relationship to custody and supervision. In mental health, an assessment refers to comprehensive information required for the diagnosis of a mental health disorder. An assessment differs from a screening, which is used to determine if an assessment is needed. (Also see definition of Screening.)

Attrition (Mortality) (Evidence Rating Element): The loss of participants during the course of a study, which often occurs because subjects move or they refuse to participate in the study. This may be a threat to the study's Internal Validity. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Average daily population (ADP): Is calculated by dividing the total number of days all placed youth spent in a program/facility by the number of days in a specified period (e.g. sum of all days in the program/facility for all youth placed during the year/number of days in the year).

Best practice: Strategies and programs demonstrated through research and evaluation to be effective at preventing or intervening in juvenile delinquency. Best practice models include program models that have been shown, through rigorous evaluation and replication, to achieve target outcomes. Model programs can come from many valid sources (e.g., OJJDP's Model Programs Guide, Blueprints for Violence Prevention, SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, OJP’s, and State model program resources).

Bivariate analysis: An analysis of the relationship between two variables, such as correlations and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Case rate: Number of cases disposed per 1,000 juveniles in the population. The population base used to calculate the case rate varies. For example, the population base for the male case rate is the total number of male youth age 10 or older who are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts.

Causal Evidence: Evidence that documents a relationship between an activity, treatment, or intervention (including technology) and its intended outcomes, including measuring the direction and size of a change, and the extent to which a change may be attributed to the activity or intervention. Causal evidence depends on the use of scientific methods to rule out, to the extent possible, alternative explanations for the documented change. This differs from descriptive evidence.

Chi-square test: A statistical test used to compare differences between observed, categorical data and expected data (based on a specific hypothesis) to determine if any difference that occurred is the same as would occur by chance.

Child abuse: Acts that cause physical and/or emotional injury to the child (not necessarily resulting in a court finding). Types of child abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.

Child neglect: Acts that include abandonment, expulsion from the home, failure to seek remedial health care or delay in seeking care, inadequate supervision, disregard for hazards in the home, or inadequate food, clothing, or shelter (not necessarily resulting in a court finding).

Children exposed to violence (CEV): Being a direct victim of or a witness to violence, crime, abuse, or other violent incidents in the home, school, or community. Exposure may also include being exposed to the aftermath of a violent incident or event.

Civil rights violation: The violation of a right or rights belonging to a person by reason of citizenship including especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution and subsequent acts of Congress including the right to legal, social, and economic equality.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy/treatment (CBT): A problem-focused approach designed to help people identify and change the dysfunctional beliefs, thoughts, and patterns of behavior that contribute to their problems. Its underlying principle is that thoughts affect emotions, which then influence behaviors. CBT combines two very effective kinds of psychotherapy—cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.  Cognitive therapy concentrates on thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs. Behavioral therapy concentrates on specific actions and environments that either change or maintain behaviors.

Community: A group of individuals sharing one or more characteristics such as geographic location (e.g., a neighborhood), culture, age, or a particular risk factor.

Community assessment center (CAC): An integrated case management system that provides youth with a single 24-hour centralized point of intake and assessment to ensure the provision of appropriate and unduplicated treatment services. CACs use a collaborative approach that leads to more integrated and effective cross-system services for juveniles and their families. CACs are designed to positively influence the lives of youth and divert them from a path of serious, violent, and chronic delinquency.

Commitment: A court order giving guardianship of a juvenile to the state department of juvenile justice or corrections. The facility in which a juvenile may be placed may be publicly or privately operated and may range from a secure correctional placement to a non-secure or staff-secure facility, group home, foster care, or day treatment setting.

Comparison Group: A group of individuals whose characteristics are similar to those of a treatment group. Comparison group individuals may not receive any services, or they may receive a different set of services, treatment, or activities as the treatment group. In no instance do they receive the same services as the individuals being evaluated (the treatment group). Comparison groups are used in quasi-experimental designs where random assignment is not possible or practical.

Contamination (Evidence Rating Element): Occurs when members of the control group or the comparison group are inadvertently exposed to the intervention or treatment being studied. Contamination threatens the study’s Internal Validity. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Continuum of care : This includes a system of service providers working together to provide a smooth transition of services for children and families. The complete range of programs and services is referred to as the continuum of care, usually following a model from identification and referral to assessment, intervention, treatment, through aftercare.

Control Group: A group of individuals whose characteristics should be almost identical to those of the treatment group but do not receive the program services, treatments, or activities being evaluated. In experimental designs, individuals are placed into control groups and treatment groups through random assignment.

Coping skills: The ability to regulate the emotional consequences of stressful or potentially stressful events.

Correctional facility: Any public or private residential facility with construction fixtures or staffing models designed to physically restrict the movements and activities of juveniles or other individuals that is used for the placement, after adjudication and disposition, of any juvenile who has been adjudicated as having committed an offense, or of any other individual convicted of a criminal offense.

Correlation: A statistical term that measures the degree of the relationship between two variables. A correlation has two components, magnitude and direction. Magnitude is a measure of strength and ranges from 0, no correlation, to 1, perfect correlation. Direction determines whether a correlation is positive or negative. A positive correlation means that as one variable, X, increases so does another variable, Y. A negative correlation means that as one variable, X, decreases so does another variable, Y. An inverse correlation means that as one variable, X, increases the other variable, Y, decreases and vice versa. For example, if variables X and Y have a correlation of 0.7 this means they have a strong, positive relationship. Correlation does not imply a causal relationship between variables.

Cost-benefit analysis: A type of economic evaluation that measures both costs and benefits (i.e., negative and positive consequences) associated with an intervention in dollar terms.

Court referral: A complaint or petition filed with the juvenile court.

Cultural competency: The ability of service agencies or their staff to understand the world view of clients of different cultures and adapt practices to ensure their effectiveness.

Delinquency: An act committed by a juvenile that would be criminal if committed by an adult. The juvenile court has jurisdiction over delinquent acts. Delinquent acts include crimes against persons, crimes against property, drug offenses, and crimes against public order.

Dependent variable: A variable whose outcome is influenced or changed by some other variable, usually the independent variable or the treatment. It is the “effect” or outcome variable in a cause and effect relationship.

Descriptive Evidence: Evidence used to characterize individuals, groups, events, processes, trends, or relationships using quantitative statistical methods, correlational methods, or qualitative research methods. This differs from causal evidence.

Detention: Usually refers to the placement of a youth in a secure facility under court authority at some point between the time of referral to court intake and case disposition. Detention prior to case disposition is known as pre-dispositional detention. At times there is a need for detention after sentencing, known as post-dispositional detention. The reasons for post-dispositional detention generally include awaiting placement, short-term sentencing to detention, or being a danger to self or others.

Detention facility: A secure pre-dispositional/post-dispositional public or private facility (local, regional, or state-run) with construction fixtures or staffing models designed to physically restrict the movements and activities of juveniles or other individuals that is used for the placement, after adjudication and disposition, of any juvenile who has been adjudicated as having committed an offense, or of any other individual convicted of a criminal offense. There are generally three types of detention centers: local, regional, and state. Local facilities are owned and operated by one local political jurisdiction. Regional facilities are owned and operated jointly by more than one local political jurisdiction (generally counties). These facilities are eligible to receive youth from each member jurisdiction. State facilities are owned and operated by a state agency. These facilities are eligible to receive youth from designated (or all) localities within the state.

Diffusion (Evidence Rating Element): Occurs when the effects or benefits of a program extend beyond the places, individuals, problems, or behaviors directly or indirectly targeted. This element is reviewed along with anticipatory benefits and displacement on the Scoring Instrument. These elements are often considered in evaluations of community-level crime prevention efforts. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Dimension: One of four broad categories of information included in the Scoring Instrument used to review and rate program evidence. The dimensions include: Program’s Conceptual Framework; Study Design Quality; Study Outcomes; and Program Fidelity. Each dimension consists of multiple Evidence Rating Elements. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Displacement (Evidence Rating Element): Occurs when an intervention has the effect of moving the problem in question (such as crime) rather than reducing the incidence of the problem. This element is reviewed along with diffusion and anticipatory benefits on the Scoring Instrument. These elements are typically considered in evaluations of community-level crime prevention efforts. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Disposition: Sanction ordered or treatment plan decided upon or initiated in a particular case by a juvenile court. The range of options available to a court typically includes commitment to an institution; placement in a group or foster home or other residential facility; probation (either regular or intensive supervision); referral to an outside agency, day treatment, or mental health program; or imposition of a fine, community service, or restitution.

Diversion: A mechanism designed to hold youth accountable for their actions by sanctioning behavior and in some cases securing services, but at the same time generally avoiding formal court processing in the juvenile justice system.

Effect Size: A standardized, quantitative index representing the magnitude and direction of an empirical relationship. More specifically, the effect size is a value that reflects the magnitude of the treatment effect. An effect size from an outcome evaluation represents the change in an outcome measure from before a program is implemented to the follow-up period. The effect size of the treatment group can be compared to the effect size of the control group to determine if there are any differences, and if so, whether those differences are statistically significant (which allows for greater confidence that the difference was due to the program). See Statistical Significance for more information. The most common types of effect sizes in the criminal justice and delinquency literature are the standardized mean difference effect size; odds ratios and risk ratios; and correlation coefficients.

The magnitude of an effect size is often judged using "rules of thumb" from social science research. For example, standardize mean difference effect sizes (Cohen's d or Hedge's g) are judged using the following rules: small=0.20; medium=0.50; large=0.80. These are not hard cut-off points but rather approximation. There are different standards for each type of effect size.

Effective: An Evidence Rating on Model Programs Guide to designate a program with strong evidence that it achieves its intended outcomes when implemented with fidelity. Read more at Model Programs Guide Review Process and Evidence Ratings. "Effective" programs are represented throughout the site with the "Effective" icon: .

Effectiveness: The strength of the evidence demonstrating that a program achieves its intended outcomes.

Evidence: Information about a question that is generated through systematic data collection, research, or program evaluation using accepted scientific methods that are documented and replicable. Evidence may be classified as either descriptive or causal.

Evidence base (studies reviewed): Represents the three or fewer studies reviewed and scored by Model Programs Guide Study Reviewers, the results of which are aggregated to determine a program's Evidence Rating. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Evidence Rating: Refers to one of three designations on the Model Programs Guide indicating the extent of the evidence that a program "works." The three designations are: "Effective" (), "Promising" (), and "No Effects" (). A single study icon is used to identify programs that have been evaluated with only one study. A multiple studies icon (Multiple studies icon image) is used to represent a greater extent of evidence supporting the evidence rating. The icon depicts programs that have more than one study in the evidence base demonstrating effects in a consistent direction. Read more at Model Programs Guide Review Process and Evidence Ratings.

Evidence Rating Element: Subcategories within the four broad dimensions included in the Scoring Instrument used to review and rate the evidence for a program. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Evidence-based Programs: The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) considers programs and practices to be evidence-based when their effectiveness has been demonstrated by causal evidence, generally obtained through high quality outcome evaluations.

Experimental Design: A research design in which participants are randomly assigned to an intervention/treatment group or a control group. Many social scientists believe studies using random assignment lead to the highest confidence that observed effects are the result of the program and not another variable. See also Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT).

External validity: The degree to which study results generalize to populations and contexts beyond the particular ones included in the studies themselves.

Family functioning: Interactions with family members that involve physical, emotional, and psychological activities.

Fidelity (Evidence Rating Element): The degree to which a program's core services, components, and procedures are implemented as originally designed. Programs replicated with a high degree of fidelity are more likely to achieve consistent results. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Follow-up Period (Evidence Rating Element): The length of time that the study period continues after the program ends to determine the program's sustained or continued effects. This is an Evidence Rating Element in the Scoring Instrument. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Formal processing: Cases that appear on the official court calendar in response to the filing of a petition, complaint, or other legal instrument requesting the court to adjudicate a youth as a delinquent, status offender, or dependent child or to waive jurisdiction and transfer a youth to criminal court for processing as a criminal offender.

Gang (youth gang): A youth gang is commonly thought of as a self-formed association of peers having the following characteristics: three or more members, generally ages 12 to 24; a gang name and some sense of identity, generally indicated by symbols such as clothing style, graffiti, and hand signs; some degree of permanence and organization; and an elevated level of involvement in delinquent or criminal activity.

Gender-specific services: Services designed specifically either for boys or for girls to promote healthy attitudes, behaviors and lifestyles, and foster social competence. While gender specific services can target either gender group, this phrase often refers to services designed to serve females at risk of delinquency or found delinquent. The reason for the emergence of these gender-specific services for girls lies in the growing number of girls involved in the juvenile justice system over the past decade. For girls, key program elements generally address issues in the context of relationships with peers, family, school, and community.

Goals: Broad statements (i.e., written in general terms) that convey a program's overall intent to change, reduce, or eliminate the problem described. Goals identify the program's intended short- and long-term results.

Graduated sanctions: A graduated sanctions system is a set of integrated intervention strategies designed to operate in unison to enhance accountability, ensure public safety, and reduce recidivism by preventing future delinquent behavior. The term graduated sanctions implies that the penalties for delinquent activity should move from limited interventions to more restrictive (i.e., graduated) penalties according to the severity and nature of the crime. In other words, youth who commit serious and violent offenses should receive more restrictive sentences than youth who commit less serious offenses.

History (Evidence Rating Element): An event that takes place between the pretest (data collected prior to the treatment beginning) and the posttest (data collected after the treatment ends) that has nothing to do with the treatment but may impact observed outcomes. History is a potential threat to Internal Validity. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Implementation: Refers to putting into place a program in the same or similar manner targeting the same or similar population in order to achieve the same results that occurred when a program was originally assessed.

Independent variable: A variable that changes or influences another variable, usually the dependent variable. This is often the treatment in experimental designs or quasi-experimental designs and precedes the outcome variable in time. It is the “cause” in a cause and effect relationship.

Instrumentation (Evidence Rating Element): The measures used in a study. The instrumentation quality is dependent on the measures' reliability and validity. Reliability refers to the degree to which a measure is consistent or gives very similar results each time it is used, and validity refers to the degree to which a measure is able to scientifically answer the question it is intended to answer. Instrumentation is a component considered within Internal Validity. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Insufficient Evidence: Programs or practices with insufficient evidence are those that have been reviewed by Model Programs Guide Study Reviewers, but were not assigned an evidence rating due to limitations of the studies included in the programs' evidence base. Programs are placed on this insufficient evidence list if the study (or studies) reviewed (1) had significant limitations in the study design or (2) lacked sufficient information about program fidelity so that it was not possible to determine if the program was delivered as designed.

Intake decision: The decision made by juvenile court intake that results in a case being handled informally at the intake level or petitioned and scheduled for an adjudicatory or waiver hearing.

Intended Outcomes: The results that a program deliberately sets out to achieve by its design (i.e., the program's goals). For example, a reentry program’s intended outcomes might be to reduce recidivism among program participants.

Intensive supervision programs (ISPs): A community-based, nonresidential alternative that provide a high degree of control over offenders to ensure public safety, without the additional costs associated with confinement. ISPs have small caseloads, strict conditions of compliance, and high levels of contact and intervention by the probation officer or caseworker.

Intent-to-treat analysis: An analysis based on the initial treatment intent, not the treatment eventually administered. An intent-to-treat design ensures that all study participants are followed until the conclusion of the study, irrespective of whether the participant is still receiving or complying with the treatment.

Internal Validity (Evidence Rating Element): The degree to which observed changes can be attributed to the program. The validity of a study depends on both the research design and the measurement of the program activities and outcomes. Threats to internal validity on's Scoring Instrument include: Attrition, Maturation, Instrumentation, Regression toward the Mean, Selection Bias, Contamination, and History, as well as other factors. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Intervention: Programs or services that are intended to disrupt a juvenile's delinquency process, reduce risk factors for delinquency and other negative behaviors, and/or build skills and prevent a youth from penetrating further into the juvenile justice or child welfare systems.

Juvenile: Broadly understood as a youth at or below the upper age of juvenile court or family court jurisdiction.The upper age varies depending on the state. For example, in some states a juvenile is a person under the age of 18, while in others a juvenile is under the age of 17. In a number of states, a juvenile is a person under the age of 16 while in Wyoming a juvenile is a person under the age of 19. The age threshold is important because it determines if a youth will be processed in the adult criminal justice system or the juvenile justice system. Juveniles include youth who fall under the scope of a state’s delinquency code but not the criminal code. The juvenile label is often synonymous with other terms such as young person or youth.

Juvenile holdover program: Holdover programs are staffed by community volunteers or paid staff and administered by law enforcement, juvenile court, probation, or a nonprofit organization. Less restrictive than formal detention, they can be located in a nonsecure or combination secure/nonsecure setting. If a community’s detention and shelter care facilities are too small or too crowded to house the program, it can be located in an emergency shelter, probation office, hospital, hotel/motel, or other setting. In more remote areas, staff can be on call. Some areas house the program in a community assessment center.

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act: Congress enacted the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) (P. L. No. 93-415, 42 U.S.C. § 5601 et seq.) in 1974 and reauthorized the majority of its provisions in 2002. The JJDPA mandates that states comply with four core protections to participate in the JJDPA's Formula Grants program. This landmark legislation established OJJDP to support local and state efforts to prevent delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system.

Lead Researcher: Subject matter and research methodology experts who serve a leadership role in selecting the studies that comprise the evidence base for a program and who coordinate the review process on Model Programs Guide. They also ensure that any scoring discrepancies between Study Reviewers are resolved and consensus is achieved prior to a program being assigned a final Evidence Rating. Read more about Model Programs Guide Reviewers.

Maturation (Evidence Rating Element): When observed outcomes are a result of natural changes of the program participants over time rather than because of program impact. Maturation is a threat considered within Internal Validity. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Memorandum of understanding (MOU): An interagency agreement designed to enable all parties to conduct certain efforts of mutual interest. For example, a MOU may be signed between a police department and a school system that specifies the types of information to be shared, states the terms of the agreement, and includes the signatures of all parties to the agreement.

Mental health disorder: Any clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome characterized by the presence of distressing symptoms, impairment of functioning, or significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or loss of freedom. The concept does not include deviant behavior, disturbances that are essentially conflicts between the individual and society, or expected and culturally sanctioned responses to particular events.

Meta-analysis: The systematic quantitative analysis of multiple studies that address a set of related research hypotheses in order to draw general conclusions, develop support for hypotheses, and/or produce an estimate of overall program effects.

Multilevel Models/Hierarchical Models: A statistical method that allows researchers to estimate separately the variance between subjects within the same setting, and the variance between settings. For example, when evaluating a school-based program it is important to know the variation of students within the same school as well as the variation of students between different schools. This ensures that when programs are evaluated, the effects are not attributed to the program when there could be underlying differences between schools or between the students in those schools.

Multivariate analysis: Research strategy and analytic technique that involves the investigation of more than two variables at the same time or within the same statistical analysis. For example, in a multiple regression analysis, the effects of two or more independent variables are assessed in terms of their impact on the dependent variable.

Needs assessment: Systematic process to acquire an accurate, thorough picture of a youth's strengths and areas of vulnerability. The process is utilized to identify and prioritize treatment goals, develop a treatment plan, determine the appropriate level of supervision, and allocate funds and resources for services.

Neglect: Acts that include abandonment, expulsion from the home, failure to seek remedial health care or delay in seeking care, inadequate supervision, disregard for hazards in the home, or inadequate food, clothing, or shelter.

No Effects: An Evidence Rating on Model Programs Guide indicating a program has strong evidence that it had no effects or harmful effects when trying to achieve its intended outcomes. Read more at Model Programs Guide Review Process and Evidence Ratings. "No Effects" programs are represented throughout the site with the "No Effects" icon: .

Non-experimental: Refers to a research design in which participants are not assigned to treatment and control/comparison groups (randomly or otherwise). Such designs do not allow researchers to establish causal relationships between a program or treatment and its intended outcomes. Non-experimental designs are sometimes used when ethics or circumstances limit the ability to use a different design or because the intent of the research is not to establish a causal relationship. Examples of non-experimental designs include case studies, ethnographic research, or historical analysis.

Non-petitioned (informally handled) cases: Cases that duly authorized court personnel screen for adjustment without the filing of a formal petition. Such personnel include judges, referees, probation officers, other officers of the court, and/or an agency statutorily designated to conduct petition screening for the juvenile court.

Objectives: Are derived from the program goals and explain how the program goals will be accomplished. Objectives are well-defined, specific, quantifiable statements of the program's desired results and they should include the target level of accomplishment, thereby further defining goals and providing the means to measure program performance.

Office of Justice Programs (OJP): An agency of U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Justice Programs works in partnership with the justice community to identify the most pressing crime-related challenges confronting the justice system and to provide information, training, coordination, and funding of innovative strategies and approaches to address these challenges. The following bureaus and offices are part of the Office of Justice Programs: the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). Read more About the Office of Justice Programs.

Outcome Evaluation: A formal study that seeks to determine if a program is working. An outcome evaluation involves measuring change in the desired outcomes (e.g., changes in behaviors or changes in crime rates) before and after a program is implemented, and determines if those changes can be attributed to the program. Outcome evaluations can use many different research designs: randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental designs, time-series analysis, simple pre/posttest, etc. For, a program must be evaluated with at least one randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental research design (with a comparison condition) in order for the outcome evaluation to be included in the program's evidence base. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Outcomes (Primary and Secondary): The intended results of a program’s activities or operation and a dimension in the Scoring Instrument. Primary outcomes refer to the primary or central intended effects of a program. Within the scope of Model Programs Guide, those primary outcomes must also relate to criminal justice, juvenile justice, or victim services. Secondary outcomes are the ancillary effects of a program. Examples of outcomes include: recidivism, drug and alcohol use, adolescent problem behaviors, and family functioning.

Parole: A conditional release from imprisonment or as a juvenile correctional facility that entitles the person to serve the remainder of the sentence outside the correctional institution as long as the terms of the release are not violated.

Performance measures/performance indicators: Particular values used to measure program outputs or outcomes. They represent the data/information that will be collected at the program level to measure the specific outputs and outcomes a program is designed to achieve. Therefore, they must be developed for each program objective. There are two types of performance indicators:

Output indicators measure the products of a program's implementation or activities. They are generally measured in terms of the volume of work accomplished, such as number of services or products delivered, staff hired, systems developed, sessions conducted, materials developed, and policies, procedures, and/or legislation created. Examples include number of juveniles served, number of hours of service provided to participants, number of staff trained, number of detention beds added, number of materials distributed, number of reports written, and number of site visits conducted. They may also be referred to as process measures.

Outcome indicators measure the benefits or changes for individuals, the juvenile justice system, or the community as a result of the program. Outcomes may be related to behavior, attitudes, skills, knowledge, values, conditions, or other attributes. Examples are changes in the academic performance of program participants, changes in the recidivism rate of program participants, changes in client satisfaction level, changes in the conditions of confinement in detention, and changes in the county-level juvenile crime rate. There are two levels of outcomes:

  • Short-term outcomes are the first benefits or changes that participants or the system experience and are the ones most closely related to and influenced by the program's outputs. They should occur during the program or by the program's end. For direct service programs, they generally include changes in recipients' awareness, knowledge, and attitudes. For programs designed to change the juvenile justice system, they include changes to the juvenile justice system that occur during or by the end of the program.

  • Long-term outcomes are the ultimate outcomes desired for participants, recipients, the juvenile justice system, or the community. They are changes in practice, policy, decision-making, or behavior that result from participants' or service recipients' new awareness, knowledge, attitudes, or skills or changes in the juvenile justice system. They generally occur within 6 months to 1 year after the program ends. They should relate back to the program's goals (e.g., reducing delinquency).

Permanency plan: A proposal by the child welfare system and other youth-serving agencies to establish a permanent placement for youth in foster care. The goal of the permanency plan is to expeditiously secure a safe, permanent placement for every maltreated child, either by making it possible for children to return to their own families or by finding safe adoptive homes for them.

Petition:  A document filed in juvenile court alleging that a juvenile is a delinquent and asking that the court assume jurisdiction over the juvenile or asking that an alleged delinquent be waived to criminal court for prosecution as an adult.

Petitioned (formally handled) cases: Cases that appear on the official court calendar in response to the filing of a petition or other legal instrument requesting the court to adjudicate the youth delinquent, or waive the youth to criminal court for processing as an adult.

Post-disposition: The period following the imposition of a sanction ordered or treatment plan decided upon or initiated in a particular case by a juvenile court.

Practical Significance: Refers to the practical importance of an effect size. For example, an outcome evaluation may show that the treatment group performed statistically significantly better than the control group following participation in a program, but if the effect size is very small and the program costs are very high, the results may not be practically significant. Practical significance can be subjective, and can be assessed by looking at the magnitude of the effect size, the costs and resources of the program, and various other factors.

Pre-disposition: The period after the filing of a charge and prior to a sanction ordered or treatment plan decided upon or initiated in a particular case by a juvenile court.

Preponderance of Evidence: To determine if a program works, most of the outcome evidence must indicate effectiveness. This is part of a dimension in the Scoring Instrument.

Process Evaluation: A study that seeks to determine if a program is operating as it was designed to. Process evaluations can be conducted in a number of ways, but may include examination of the service delivery model, the performance goals and measures, interviews with program staff and clients, etc. Process evaluations are not included in a program's evidence base and therefore do not determine a program’s evidence rating, but may be used as supporting documentation.

Prevalence: Refers to the total number of people with a disease or condition in a given population at a specific time and is often used as an estimate of how common a condition is within a population.

Prevention: Efforts that support youth who are "at-risk" of becoming involved in delinquent behavior and help prevent a juvenile from entering the juvenile justice system as a delinquent. Prevention includes efforts to prevent youth from penetrating further into the juveniles justice system after a juvenile has committed a delinquent act; these prevention efforts include arbitration, diversionary or mediation programs, and community service work or other treatment.

Probation: Cases in which youth are placed on informal/voluntary or formal/court-ordered supervision. A violation occurs when a youth violates the terms of the probation.

Problem-solving skills: The ability to recognize a problem and identify a practicable solution (e.g., alternative solution thinking, consequential thinking).

Program: A planned, coordinated group of activities and processes designed to achieve a specific purpose. A program should have specified procedures (e.g., a defined curriculum, an explicit number of treatment or service hours, and an optimal length of treatment) to ensure the program is implemented with fidelity to its model. It may have, but does not necessarily need, a "brand" name and may be implemented at single or multiple locations.

Promising: An Evidence Rating on Model Programs Guide that indicates a program has some evidence that it achieves its intended outcomes. More extensive research is recommended. Read more at Model Programs Guide Review Process and Evidence Ratings. "Promising" programs are represented throughout the site with the "Promising" icon: .

Protective factors: They include those aspects of the individual and his or her environment that buffer or moderate the effect of risk of a developing problem. They are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, schools, or the larger society that, when present, promote well-being and reduce the risk for negative outcomes.

Quasi-experimental design: A research design that resembles an experimental design, but instead participants are not randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Quasi-experimental designs are generally viewed as weaker than experimental designs because threats to validity cannot be as thoroughly minimized. This inability to minimize threats to validity reduces the level of confidence that observed effects may be attributed to the program and not other variables.

Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) / Randomized Field Experiment: Refers to an experimental research design in which participants are randomly assigned to a treatment or a control group. Most social scientists consider random assignment to lead to the highest level of confidence that observed effects are the result of the program and not other variables.

Regression toward the Mean (Evidence Rating Element): The statistical tendency for extreme scores relative to the mean to move closer to the average score in subsequent measurements. Regression toward the mean is a threat to the study's Internal Validity. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Reliability: The repeatability and accuracy of measurement or the degree to which an instrument measures the same thing each time it is used under the same condition with the same subjects.

Reoffend: A measure of recidivism that counts the number of youth who were rearrested or seen at juvenile court (intake) for a new delinquent offense. While there is no commonly accepted measure of recidivism, it is generally measured at one of four access points in the juvenile justice process: arrest, intake, adjudication, or incarceration.

Research design (Evidence Rating Element): The plan for how a study’s information is gathered that includes identifying the data collection method(s), the instrumentation used, the administration of those instruments, and the methods to organize and analyze the data. The quality of the research design impacts whether a causal relationship between program treatment and outcome may be established. Research designs may be divided into three categories: experimental, quasi-experimental, and non-experimental. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Residential placement: Cases in which youth are placed in a residential correctional or treatment facility, or cases in which youth are otherwise removed from their homes and housed out of home. Residential placements can include secure confinement, residential treatment facilities, nonsecure confinement, group homes, foster care, shelter care, etc.

Resilience: The qualities and factors that may help an individual withstand many negative effects of adversity. These factors include self-esteem, healthy attachment and relationships, autonomy, environmental factors, and other factors that balance exposure to negative or traumatic events.

Restitution: In its traditional sense, restitution has been defined as “a monetary payment by the offender to the victim for the harm reasonably resulting from the offense.”

Reunification: The return of a child who was placed in out of home care (i.e., foster care) by the state to the birth parents or to the original custodian from whom the child was taken.

Reviewer Confidence: As a final step on the Scoring Instrument, Study Reviewers provide an assessment as to their overall confidence in the study design. If both Study Reviewers agree, and the Lead Researcher concurs, that there is a fundamental flaw in the study design (not captured in the Design Quality dimension) that raises serious concerns about the study's results, the study is removed from the evidence base and not factored into the Evidence Rating. This final determination serves as an additional safeguard to ensure that only the most rigorous studies comprise the evidence base. The study citation will be listed among the program's additional references. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Risk factors: Conditions, variables, exposures, and behaviors associated with a lower likelihood of positive outcomes and a higher likelihood of negative or socially undesirable outcomes.

Running away:  Leaving the custody and home of parents or guardians without permission and failing to return within a reasonable length of time.

Rural area: An area located outside a metropolitan statistical area as designated by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Sample Size (Evidence Rating Element): A sample is the subset of the entire population that is included in a research study. Typically, all else being equal, a larger sample size leads to increased precision in estimates of various properties of the population. The sample size affects the statistical power of a study and the extent to which a study is capable of detecting meaningful program effects. It is included as an element with Statistical Power in the Scoring Instrument. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Scoring Instrument: The method by which aspects, strengths, and weaknesses of programs and practices are consistently and objectively rated for evidence. For programs, the scoring instrument is a compilation of the dimensions and elements of a research study that are reviewed and assigned a numerical score by the Model Programs Guide Study Reviewers in order to assess the evidence of a program’s effectiveness. The instrument provides a standard method to assess the quality of each program's evidence base, while also reflecting Study Reviewers' judgment and expertise. A similar method of scoring the aspects of meta-analyses is used for practices. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish or Scoring Instrument for more information.

Screening: A process designed to determine if informal or formal processing is warranted. In the mental health setting, screening refers to an initial look at a juvenile's mental health needs. This is contrasted with an assessment to diagnose a mental health disorder, which would occur after screening. (Also see definition of Assessment.)

Secure corrections: Correctional facilities to which youths who have been adjudicated delinquent are committed for periods generally ranging from a few months to several years. Secure correctional facilities sometimes provide an array of treatment interventions designed to effect behavioral change.

Selection Bias (Evidence Rating Element): Occurs when study participants are assigned to groups such that pre-existing differences (unrelated to the program, treatment, or activities) impact differences in observed outcomes. Selection bias threatens the study's Internal Validity. Even if the subjects are randomly assigned, this threat is of particular concern with studies that have small samples. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Self-control: The ability to pause and evaluate a situation and the consequences that may result from one's behavior (i.e., exercise restraint) rather than rely on instinct or impulse.

Self-esteem: Perceiving oneself as worthy of esteem or respect.

Service: Activities identified by a program through formal consultation with program staff designed to provide accountability, public safety, competency enhancement, reparation to victims and/or therapeutic treatment. Examples include: community service, restitution, counseling sessions, probation visits, and course curriculum.

Sexual abuse: The involvement of a child in sexual activity to provide sexual gratification or financial benefit to the perpetrator, including contact for sexual purposes, prostitution, pornography, or other sexually exploitative activity (not necessarily resulting in a court finding).

Sexual misconduct: A comprehensive term used to identify various types of sexual violation, including sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other inappropriate sexual contact.

Shelter care: A detention alternative that offers residential care for youths who need short-term placement (i.e., for 1 to 30 days) outside the home. Shelter care is used for juveniles who require more intensive supervision than that provided by nonresidential options and for youths who must be detained because no parent or family member is available. Facilities are staff secure or nonsecure. Staff monitor youths 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provide a full schedule of structured educational and recreational activities.

Social competence: The ability to achieve personal goals in social interaction while simultaneously maintaining positive relationships with others over time and across situations.

Specialized foster care: An adult-mediated treatment model that recruits and trains families to offer placement and treatment for youth with a history of chronic and severe delinquency. Usually, youths are closely supervised at home, in the community, and at school. Foster care parents provide one-on-one mentoring and consistent discipline for rule violations.

Status offender: A juvenile charged with, or adjudicated for, conduct that would not, under the law of the jurisdiction in which the offense was committed, be a crime if committed by an adult. Status offenses include truancy, curfew violations, incorrigibility, running away, and underage possession and/or consumption of alcohol or tobacco.

Statistical Adjustment (Evidence Rating Element): The use of statistical controls to account for the initial measured differences between groups. It is not applicable for all research designs. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Statistical Power (Evidence Rating Element): The ability of a statistical test to detect meaningful program effects. It is a function of several factors, including: 1) the size of the sample; 2) the magnitude of the expected effect; and 3) the type of statistical test used. Statistical power is an element within Sample Size on the Scoring Instrument. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Statistical Significance: In an evaluation, statistical significance refers to the probability that any differences found between the treatment group and control group are not due to chance but are the result of the treatment group's participation in the program or intervention being studied. For example, if an outcome evaluation finds that after participating in a substance abuse program, the treatment group was statistically significantly less likely to abuse substances compared with the control group, this means that the difference between the two groups is likely due to the program and not due to chance.

In social science, researchers generally use a p-value of 0.05 or less, which means the probability that the difference between the treatment group and control group is due to chance is less than 5 percent. The p=0.05 is the cut-off point that Expert Reviewers use to score whether an outcome is statistically significant. If the p-value is larger than 0.05, the outcome is not statistically significant, and the difference between the treatment and control group could be due to chance. See Program Review and Rating from Start to Finish for more information.

Study Reviewer: Subject matter and research methodology experts who review and assess the individual evaluation studies that comprise the evidence base upon which ratings are based. All Reviewers must complete training and receive certification prior to becoming a Study Reviewer. Read more about Model Program Guide Reviewers.

Substance use and abuse: Use and abuse of substances including, but not limited to, illegal drugs (e.g., heroin), prescription and nonprescription drugs, and alcohol. Sometimes referred to as alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and abuse.

Supervision (youth supervision): Mechanisms for managing or overseeing the performance or activities of a person or group. In the context of juvenile justice, examples of supervision include probation, youth supervision orders, youth training centers, and parole orders.

System change: Strategies that alter the basic procedures, policies, and rules that govern how local or state-level juvenile justice systems operate. These strategies create wide-ranging and long-lasting modifications in policies, procedures, or laws.

Systematic review: A process by which the research evidence from multiple studies on a particular topic is reviewed and assessed using systematic methods to reduce bias in selection and inclusion of studies. A systematic review is generally viewed as more thorough than a non-systematic literature review, but does not necessarily involve the quantitative statistical techniques of a meta-analysis.

Targeted behavior: Any behavior-related problems (e.g., aggression, substance abuse) that a program is designed to modify through appropriate interventions.

Time-series analysis: An analytic technique that uses a sequence of data points, measured typically at successive, uniform time intervals, to identify trends and other characteristics of the data. For example, a time series analysis may be used to study a city’s crime rate over time and predict future crime trends.
Treatment: It may come in many forms, but all methods have the goal of improving a situation, relieving symptoms, managing crisis, or dealing with an issue through communication with and attention given to the individual experiencing the issue. Treatment usually involves a developmentally appropriate intervention or therapy.

Treatment group: The subjects or program participants of the set of services, treatment, or activities being studied or tested.

Type I Error: The probability of a Type I error, usually signified as "alpha," is often used to indicate the chance of failing to reject a null hypothesis that is actually false (e.g., concluding that a program works when in fact it does not, also called a false positive).

Type II Error: The probability of a Type II error, usually signified as "beta," is often used to indicate the chance that an actual effect goes undetected (e.g., concluding that a program doesn’t work when it fact it does, also called a false negative).

Utilization rate: Used to examine the usage of a specific facility relative to its stated capacity. The utilization rate for a residential facility is calculated by summing the length of stay of all juveniles placed in the facility during the time period and dividing that figure by facility capacity (i.e., the number of beds multiplied by the number of days in a specified time period). If the facility is overcrowded, the utilization rate will be over 100 percent.

Valid court order: An order given by a juvenile court judge to a juvenile who was brought before the court and made subject to an order; and who received, before the issuance of such order, the full due process rights guaranteed to such juvenile by the Constitution of the United States.

Variance: A statistical measure of how far a set of data points are dispersed from the mean or average for a population or a sample. It is the average deviation of outcomes from the mean of outcomes for a group. It is used as a step in determining the effect of an intervention or treatment on a population.

Waived to criminal court: Cases transferred to criminal court as the result of a judicial waiver hearing in juvenile court.

Youth advocacy: Activities focused on improving services for and protecting the rights of youth affected by the juvenile justice system.