October 2004Vol. 5, No. 8Adding Up the Benefits of Prevention
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy has compiled information on early intervention programs for youth in Washington State to ascertain whether specific programs result in savings of taxpayer dollars. The Institute was directed by the State Legislature to identify and evaluate prevention and early intervention programs for youth that have specific outcomes in seven areas, including reductions in child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy. Their results have been released in a report, "Benefits and Costs of Prevention and Early Intervention Programs for Youth."
In estimating costs and benefits for the programs, researchers conducted extensive literature reviews and then constructed a benefit-cost model for each program to assign monetary values to changes in desired effects (such as a reduction in child abuse and neglect). Results are presented in a table that lists 61 programs, along with their benefits, costs, benefits per dollar of cost, and benefits minus costs. Of these, 37 showed a positive value for benefits minus costs, indicating that they have the potential to save taxpayer dollars. The Institute also developed several recommendations to address the issue of local program costs that result in savings at the State level, including reimbursement arrangements that give State funds to local programs.
The report can be downloaded at the Institute's website at www.wsipp.wa.gov/pub.asp?docid=04-07-3901.
Read about another approach to cost analysis in "Calculating the Costs of Child Maltreatment" in the July/August 2001 issue of Children's Bureau Express.
More information on economic analysis of prevention programs is available at https://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/developing/economic.cfm.