Useful Literature

Reccomended Reading

Cost Effectiveness of Prevention and Early Intervention

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


Prevention and early intervention programs for children with mental illness produce positive outcomes for our youth and are cost-effective for our communities. However, while one in five American children has a mental illness or disorder, many never receive treatment.  Nearly half of all diagnosable mental illnesses show symptoms by age 14, and 75% begin by the age of 24, yet only 1 in 5 adolescents between 12-17 years-old receive treatment or counseling.  When left untreated, these disorders can lead to tragic and costly consequences, such as substance abuse, school dropout, involvement with law enforcement, and suicide. To ensure our children transition into healthy, productive adults, communities can implement prevention and early intervention programs to prevent, identify, and effectively treat youth with mental illness at the earliest stages.

Skill Formation and the Economics of Investing in Disadvantaged Children

James J. Heckman


This paper summarizes evidence on the effects of early environments on child, adolescent, and adult achievement. Life cycle skill formation is a dynamic process in which early inputs strongly affect the productivity of later inputs.

Saddle Up,Montana: It’s Time to Make Early Investments in Kids



FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS is a national, bipartisan, nonprofit, anti-crime organization. The organization has a membership of more than 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys, other law enforcement leaders and violence survivors. The members take a hard-nosed look at what approaches work—and what don’t—to prevent crime and violence. They then recommend effective strategies to state and national policymakers. It operates under the umbrella of the Council for a Strong America.

Enhancing the Net Benefits of Disseminating Efficacious Prevention Programs: A Note on Target Efficiency with Illustrative Examples

Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research


We consider the implementation, in a nonresearch setting, of a new prevention program that has previously been evaluated in a randomized trial. When the target population for the implementation is heterogeneous, the overall net benefits of the implementation may differ substantially from those reported in the economic evaluation of the randomized trial, and from those that would be realized if the program were implemented within a selected subgroup of the target population. This note illustrates a simple and practical approach to targeting that can combine risk-factor results from the literature with the overall costbenefit results from the program’s randomized trial to maximize the expected net benefit of implementing the program in a heterogeneous population.


Understanding Proximal–Distal Economic Projections of the Benefits of Childhood Preventive Interventions

Prevention Science


This paper discusses the steps and decisions involved in proximal–distal economic modeling, in which social, behavioral, and academic outcomes data for children may be used to inform projections of the economic consequences of interventions. Economic projections based on proximal–distal modeling techniques may be used in cost–benefit analyses when information is unavailable for certain long-term outcomes data in adulthood or to build entire cost–benefit analyses. Although examples of proximal–distal economic analyses of preventive interventions exist in policy reports prepared for governmental agencies, such analyses have rarely been completed in conjunction with research trials. The modeling decisions on which these prediction models are based are often opaque to policymakers and other end-users. This paper aims to illuminate some of the key steps and considerations involved in constructing proximal–distal prediction models and to provide examples and suggestions thatmay help guide future proximal–distal analyses.


Benefit-Cost Analyses of Child and Family Preventive Interventions

The RAND Blog; Commentary (Social Policy Report of the Society for Research in Child Development)


Supplee and Metz make a strong case for using research evidence for program decisions at the local, state, and federal levels. The emphasis on using social science evidence for choosing programs to implement has gained momentum over the past two decades. Examples include the sets of randomized control trials conducted by the Institute of Educational Sciences in the past several administrations as well as the reliance on evidence in the Office of Management and Budget deliberations during the Obama administration (the new book by Haskins and Margolis, published by The Brookings Institution entitled Show me the evidence: Obama's fight for rigor and evidence in social policy, is a fascinating read of the this history). The Coalition of Evidence-Based Policy, directed by Jon Baron and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), directed by Steve Aos, are examples of efforts being made to summarize the extant evidence on a variety of programs, in the hope that their syntheses will be used in decisions about funding (or defunding) programs.  We would like to add that in thinking about scaling programs and services for children, youth, and families, the research community should also consider economic evidence as part of their research programs in order to inform funding decisions.

The Neglected Brain, Part 1

Stacey Solie;


Editor’s Note: Neglect is by far the most common form of child maltreatment. Whether physical or emotional, benign or malicious, it alters the developing brain’s architecture and circuitry in profound and persistent ways that often lead to physical and behavioral problems throughout life. This is the first of a four-part series that explores the crippling, and yet reversible effects of childhood neglect on the brain and life of Danielle Goodwin. Read Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

For Better Crime Prevention, A Dose of Science 

Tina Rosenberg; NYTimes


What causes young inner-city men to kill each other? Where do we start? At the root causes of poverty, discrimination, family breakdown, childhood toxic stress? With concrete societal failings such as bad schools, unsafe housing, lack of health care and few jobs? With a gang culture that accords respect to those who commit brutal crimes and serve long prison terms? With the easy availability of guns? All contribute. But we can’t wait until we solve these enormous problems to keep young men alive. “Maybe you don’t have to solve poverty,” said Sara Heller, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Maybe you can attack more proximal causes. So much violence comes out of arguments. If you can get a kid to look away instead of throwing the first punch, you can avoid violence.”  On its face, this seems absurd. But consider the Chicago police’s analysis of murders. In 2011, of the murders for which researchers could identify a motive, only 10 percent were the stuff outsiders imagine: ruthless drug dealers vying for territory. The vast majority of homicides — 70 percent — were the result of altercations.


Impact of Early Intervention on Psychopathology, Crime, and Well-Being at Age 25

Am J Psychiatry 172:1, January 2015


This randomized controlled trial tested the efficacy of early intervention to prevent adult psychopathology and improve well-being in early-starting conduct-problem children.



Can Science Save Abused, Neglected Kids – and Money, too?

Judy Lightfoot;


A look into how Washington State has woven EBP's into state policy.



Encylopedia of Primary Prevention and Health Promotion

Reference Work 2014; Editors: Thomas P. Gullotta, Martin Bloom


This reference work takes a lifespan approach to the fields of public health and illness prevention in an updated and expanded second edition.  It explains foundational topics in the first of four volumes that broaden understanding of illness prevention and health promotion at every age group.



2015 CASEL Guide: Effective Social & Emotional Learning Programs


The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has released a new tool to help middle and high schools address secondary students' need for effective social and emotional learning (SEL).  The guide provides a framework for examining social and emotional learning (SEL) programs designed for secondary schools and rates well-designed, evidence-based programs in a Consumer Reports-style review.  It provides information about the designs of the programs, the professional development and implementation support available, and their evaluations.

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