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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

CUNY Faculty Develops a Decision Support Tool for At-Risk Adolescents

Dr. Jim Stimpson, associate dean of academic affairs and professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and colleagues have developed a decision support tool to determine cost-to-benefit of a family-centered in-home program for at-risk adolescents. The work is published in Evaluation and Program Planning.

Dr. Jim Stimpson
[Photo: Dr. Jim Stimpson]

Family-centered program research has demonstrated its effectiveness in improving adolescent outcomes. However, given current fiscal constraints faced by governmental agencies, there is a need for cost-benefit analyses to inform decision making by policymakers. Performance management tools such as balanced scorecards and dashboards do not generally include cost-benefit analyses. In this publication the team describes the development of an Excel-based decision support tool that can be used to evaluate a selected family-based program for at-risk children and adolescents relative to a comparison program or the status quo. This tool incorporates the use of an efficient, user-friendly interface with results provided in concise tabular and graphical formats that may be interpreted without need for substantial training in economic evaluation. To illustrate, the authors present an application of this tool to evaluate use of Boys Town’s In-Home Family Services relative to detention and out-of-home placement in New York City. Use of the decision support tool can help mitigate the need for programs to contract experts in economic evaluation, especially when there are financial or time constraints.