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Evaluation of a Comprehensive Community Initiative: Switch-Track

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2012
32 pages
Findings and methodology are presented for an evaluation of the Switch-Track initiative in Caldwell, ID, which is intended to "switch a youth from a track of gangs, violence, and drug use toward becoming positive contributors to the community."
Knowing that truancy puts students at risk of becoming adult criminals, the Caldwell Police Chief and The United Way of the Treasure Valley cooperated in bringing together community organizations to focus on at-risk youth and reduce truancy. The evaluation found that the truancy program increased the average daily attendance by 4 percent. This led to State funding of the program after grant funds ended. Most participants in the Switch-Track initiative believed the community was "better off today" because of the program. Surveyed members of Switch-Track indicated it had positively impacted the lives of school-based youth; increased communication and collaboration among organizations; improved guardian/parental awareness of truancy issues; and improved the ability to address issues that contribute to delinquency and crime. The grant was used to support law enforcement drug and gang strategies as well as community prevention programs. Specific activities in these areas are summarized. Information for the evaluation was obtained through quarterly reports by the project director; the Idaho Incident Reporting System repository of offenses and arrests; the Caldwell and Vallivue School District grade, attendance, and discipline database; and a survey of Switch-Track members. This report notes that this evaluation was intended to assess the process and development of Switch-Track, problems encountered, solutions created, and the overall project impact. It states that due to time, funding, and data limitations, the scope of the evaluation did not determine whether the initiative reached its overall goal of preventing and reducing gang and drug violence through its law enforcement and prevention efforts. Extensive tables and figures and 15 references