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Identifying Core Components of Effective Youth Programs


  • ASPE wanted to identify core components of effective youth programs to inform practice.
  • Abt conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of hundreds of programs.
  • Abt is using the findings to produce guidelines for practitioners.
The Challenge

The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) Core Components project was established to develop evidence-based practice guidelines for youth programs (e.g., community, mental health, public health, child welfare settings, schools). The project’s goal is to better understand the characteristics of effective programs and share guidelines that can make programs more effective with those who design, support, and implement them.

The Approach

Abt conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of hundreds of rigorous, controlled studies of youth programs. Our analyses are being used to identify profiles of program, participant, and implementation features that are empirically related to positive outcomes across the diverse program implementations represented in the research.

The Results

Once the features associated with positive outcomes are identified, we use the results to create practice guidelines that allow agencies and providers to assess how well their services stack up against what the evidence says are the most effective components. The guidelines also provide actionable suggestions on how to implement the core components.

Related reports:
Developing Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines for Youth Programs: Technical Report on the Core Components of Interventions that Address Externalizing Behavior Problems