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Eval Program Plann. 2015 Oct;52:189-97. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2015.05.001. Epub 2015 Jun 20.

Achieving successful evidence-based practice implementation in juvenile justice: The importance of diagnostic and evaluative capacity.

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Division of Public Behavioral Health & Justice Policy, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, 2815 Eastlake Ave E Ste 200, Seattle, WA 98102, United States. Electronic address:
Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University, 320F Biobehavioral Health Bldg., University Park, PA 16802, United States; Doctoral Program, Griffith University, Australia. Electronic address:
Health Sciences Center, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University, 2020 Gravier St., 3rd Floor, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States. Electronic address:


Evidence-based programs (EBPs) are an increasingly visible aspect of the treatment landscape in juvenile justice. Research demonstrates that such programs yield positive returns on investment and are replacing more expensive, less effective options. However, programs are unlikely to produce expected benefits when they are not well-matched to community needs, not sustained and do not reach sufficient reach and scale. We argue that achieving these benchmarks for successful implementation will require states and county governments to invest in data-driven decision infrastructure in order to respond in a rigorous and flexible way to shifting political and funding climates. We conceptualize this infrastructure as diagnostic capacity and evaluative capacity: Diagnostic capacity is defined as the process of selecting appropriate programing and evaluative capacity is defined as the ability to monitor and evaluate progress. Policy analyses of Washington State, Pennsylvania and Louisiana's program implementation successes are used to illustrate the benefits of diagnostic and evaluate capacity as a critical element of EBP implementation.


Adaptation; Capacity; Continuous quality assurance; Evaluative capacity; Evidence-based practice; Implementation; Juvenile justice

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