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Evidence-based practices

Programs and services of demonstrated effectiveness in improving behavior.

Now more than ever before, research is helping to establish approaches and programs that effectively change delinquent behavior, lower recidivism and help young people succeed. Rigorously studied evidence-based programs like Multisystemic Therapy and Family Functional Therapy have been found to produce consistently better results than traditional juvenile justice interventions. Research supports other programs and services that show promise in improving behavior and emotional functioning but many juvenile justice systems struggle to put these proven and scientifically supported approaches into practice. Despite the research on what works to reduce delinquency and improve outcomes for youth, less than 10  percent of youth are afforded evidence-based community services. 

Models for Change worked to expand the use and availability of evidenced-based services through intensive investment in reforming Louisiana’s juvenile justice system. Through a combination of local, state, academic and national partnerships, Louisiana adopted a model that has doubled the overall proportion of youth able to access evidence-based services, while at the same time witnessing a 46 percent drop in juvenile arrests between 2006 and 2010.

By supporting innovations known to work, Models for Change helps promote the kinds of services proven to change behavior and improve outcomes for youth.

More information about evidence-based practices can also be found on's Resource Hub.

Featured publications

Initiative tools, research, knowledge, and innovations to promote reform

Publication cover Turning Knowledge into Practice: A Manual for Human Service Administrators and Practitioners about Understanding and Implementing Evidence-Based Practices, 2nd edition (revised)
Nov 19, 2010, John A. Morris
The mission of the authors and sponsors of this manual is to enhance independence, self sufficiency, and community living for people with disabilities through the implementation and approaches of…
Publication cover Innovation Brief: Model for Effective Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices
Dec 12, 2013, Stephen Phillippi
In current literature, there is a general agreement concerning what works and what does not work in reducing delinquent behavior with juvenile offenders in communities; however, this knowledge has…
Publication cover Innovation Brief: The Cultural Enhancement Model for Evidence-Based Practice
Dec 12, 2013, Sarah Walker
Interest in developing and testing cultural adaptations has grown in proportion to the widespread adoption of policies to support the implementation of evidence-based practice (EBPs). One significant…
Publication cover Measuring Success: A Guide to Becoming an Evidence-Based Practice
Apr 22, 2013, Jennifer Fratello
As part of the MacArthur Foundation Models for Change initiative, the Vera Institute of Justice created this guide, which describes the process that assesses whether a program qualifies as evidence…

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Leading organizations

Network partners advancing reforms and providing assistance, lessons, and support

Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform
(202) 687-1527
LSU Health Sciences Center, School of Public Health, Institute for Public Health and Justice
(504) 568-5953
National Center for Juvenile Justice
(412) 227-6950
Vera Institute of Justice
(212) 334-1300
Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps
(617) 227-4183

More contacts »


Supported by

Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.