The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative assists select county governments to develop comprehensive inventories of county-funded programs in several policy areas.
In July 2017, Cook County, Illinois, partnered with Results First to gain a better understanding of the evidence behind a subset of the county’s public safety programs. Leaders from the county’s Justice Advisory Council (JAC) aimed to assess grant-funded programs seeking to reduce recidivism among the criminal justice population.
Working alongside Results First partners, the county built a comprehensive inventory of all programs targeting recidivism reduction among both juvenile and adult offenders. This inventory allowed the JAC to gain a full picture of the evidence base behind its programs.
The JAC identified 23 programs targeting recidivism reduction, several of which were not evidence-based. The process illuminated the need for targeting specific programs for evaluation and expanding the county’s evidence-based offerings.
To better achieve intended outcomes, the JAC has collaborated with the county procurement office to incorporate evidence principles into the county’s contracting process. The county is integrating several questions into its requests for proposals for social services that will require providers to report on the evidence base behind proposed programs. It is also encouraging providers to look to the Results First Clearinghouse Database to identify effective interventions.
Cook County staff hope to eventually expand the use of the Results First program inventory process into additional policy areas and anticipate an increasing amount of funding will be directed toward evidence-based programs in the months and years to come.