Program

Mar 21, 2011

OVERVIEW

CASASTART is a youth development
program for middle school students. It employed a community-wide approach and a
variety of tactics (e.g., case management, policing, financial incentives) to
promote positive youth development. The program had positive impacts on number
of positive activities youth participated in, peer risk factors, and drug risk
factors. Participants in the program were also less likely to repeat a grade or
commit a violent crime. The program did not show an impact on family risk
factors, educational risk factors, officially detected criminal activity,
self-esteem, alienation, risk taking, or feelings of sadness and loneliness.

DESCRIPTION
OF PROGRAM

Target population: Middle school students living in disadvantaged
neighborhoods.

The evaluated CASASTART programs (implemented in five cities) were designed to
prevent drug use and delinquency by reducing the number of risk factors to which
at-risk youths were exposed. Each program consisted of eight service components
targeting neighborhood, peer group, family, and individual risk factors. The
service components varied across programs in order to fit the values and
cultural background of the neighborhoods, but generally included case
management, family services, afterschool and summer activities, mentoring,
education services, incentives, community policing and enhanced enforcement, and
criminal and juvenile justice intervention.

The program costs
$4,700 for each child/family per year according to a 1999 publication. Training
and technical assistance for new CASASTART sites costs $3,000 a day plus
expenses.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Harrell, A., Cavanaugh, S., &
Sridharan, S. (1999). Evaluation of the Children at Risk Program: Results 1
year after the end of the program. Research in brief.
Washington, DC: U.S.
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of
Justice.

Evaluated population: Middle
school students (ages 11-13) from disadvantaged neighborhoods in five cities
(Austin, Texas; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Memphis, Tennessee; Savannah, Georgia;
and Seattle, Washington). The sample was 58% black, 34% Hispanic, and 8% white
or Asian. To be selected for the study, participants had to display one of the
following risk factors: family risk, suspected drug use, school risk, or
personal risk.

Approach:The study randomly
assigned youths as CASASTART participants (n=338) or control (n=333). Services
were provided for two years. In person, in home interviews with youth and
caregivers were collected at baseline (response rates: youth 98%, caregivers
96-100%) and at the end of the program period (response rate: youth 77%,
caregiver 80-68%). A follow up survey was conducted with the youths one year
after the end of the program (response rate 76%).

Data on criminal activity were
collected once a year from the youth’s officially recorded contacts with the
criminal justice system. Data on school grades, promotions, and attendance were
collected from schools for youths enrolled in public school, but were not
available for youths in private school or who moved during the study.

Results:Participants in the
CASASTART program participated in a significantly higher number of positive
activities, including sports, school clubs, religious groups and community
programs. They were more likely to attend and drug or alcohol prevention
program. CASASTART households also used more services, including tutoring,
mentoring, parent education, and counseling. Nevertheless, less than half
received any services.

CASASTART had statistically
significant positive impacts on peer risk factors. At the one-year follow up,
CASASTART participants had more positive peer support, associated less often
with delinquent youths, felt less pressure to engage in delinquent activities,
and were less frequently urged by peers to behave in antisocial ways than
control group youths.

The CASASTART program also had an
impact on drug risk, such that program participants were less likely to have
used any drugs in the past month, were less likely to use gateway drugs
(marijuana, alcohol, inhalants, or cigarettes) in the year following the
program, and were less likely to have sold drugs. The program had an impact on
number of violent crimes committed, but not number of property crimes. The
program did not have an impact on youths’ officially detected criminal activity
or their likelihood of contact with the police and courts.

CASASTART participants were less
likely to repeat a grade than youths in the control group. However, the program
did not have an impact on educational risks such as attachment to school,
attendance, educational and job expectations, and perceptions of discrepancies
between aspirations and expectations.

CASASTART did not show an impact on
youths’ self-esteem, alienation, risk taking, or feelings of sadness and
loneliness. The program also did not have an effect on getting in trouble at
school or dealing with serious issues.

CASASTART families were no different
than control families regarding family risk factors, including family conflict
and violence, parental supervision and disciplinary practices, low levels of
parental attachment and support, low family cohesion and organization, and
problem behaviors among parents and older siblings.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Contact information:

Lawrence F. Murray, LMSW

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at
Columbia University

633 Third Avenue, 19th Floor

New York, NY 10017

212-841-5200 (phone)

212-956-8020 (fax)


lmurray@casacolumbia.org


http://www.casastart.org/

Link to program curriculum:

http://www.casacolumbia.org/absolutenm/templates/AboutCASA.aspx?articleid=203&zoneid=26

References:

Harrell, A., Cavanaugh, S., &
Sridharan, S. (1999). Evaluation of the Children at Risk Program: Results 1
year after the end of the program. Research in brief. Washington, DC: U.S
.
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of
Justice.

KEYWORDS: Middle
School, Adolescence (12-17), Mentoring, Tutoring, School-based, Clinic-based,
Community-based, Home-based, Community or Media Campaign, Case Management,
Parent/Family Component, Education, Academic Achievement, Summer Program, Cost,
Manual, High Risk, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Urban, Males and
Females (co-ed)

Program
information last updated 3/21/2011.