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Stories of Nonprofit Impact: Less Crime, Brighter Outlook for Youth + Families

by Jessica Lantos

MANP recently release the 3rd edition of Partners in Prosperity: The Maine Nonprofit Sector Impact, which showcases the powerful social and economic impact of nonprofits in our state. We will be featuring stories from the report here on our blog in the coming months, and encourage nonprofits, public officials, and community members to download and read the full report for free.

Our second featured story of nonprofit impact comes from Spurwink, whose mission is to provide quality services and supports that effectively meet the diverse needs of children, adolescents and adults, and their families.

Partners in Prosperity Case Study: Less Crime, Brighter Outlook for Youth +Families

The Impact

At risk youth who complete Functional Family Therapy (FFT) at Spurwink Services have a recidivism rate lower than those who receive no treatment or juvenile court probation services only (up to 74%.) Other positive impacts of FFT include less at-risk behavior by the youths’ siblings, and improved conflict resolution skills for entire families. On average, this highly effective, short-term treatment is thousands of dollars less expensive than equivalent juvenile detention intervention or residential treatment.

The Story Behind the Impact

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is an evidence-based family treatment model that is family-focused and targets the behavior of youth between the ages of 10 and 19 who are displaying at-risk behaviors, most of whom are referred to the program by the Department of Corrections. One factor of the program’s success is its ability to engage and motivate youth and families to take part in therapeutic services. Spurwink’s FFT program served 169 families in 2012; clients reported improvement in overall family functioning, including conflict resolution, supervision ability, parenting skills, and communication skills. National FFT research shows that not only are recidivism rates lower for those who receive this treatment, but also shows that the significantly fewer crimes committed were much less severe. FFT also reduces the future need for more restrictive higher cost services such as juvenile detention or residential treatment services; future incidences of problems; and the likelihood of younger children in the family needing social services. For all of these reasons, every dollar spent on FFT has the potential of saving society $7.50 in costs for correctional and other services.

For more information about this story or topic,  contact Spurwink Services.

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