Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Adult offenders; Placed out-of-home; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Recidivism

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting; Criminal justice setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Edmonton John Howard Society began delivering the Ree*Start program (at the time called the Community Youth Work program) in 1997. The Ree*Start program (Resources, Education, Employment, Support, Teaching, Advocacy, Respect, Transition) addressed the issue of youth who were transitioning from Alberta Justice, or Child and Youth Services, and required access to ongoing supports if they were to be successful in integrating into the community.

The program was centered on alternatives to detention; conflict resolution; counselling and social work; juvenile justice; leadership and youth development; skills training; and social emotional learning.


The main goals of the Ree*Start program are to:

  • Support and empower youth to make healthy choices in life by promoting the youths’ independence and helping them to develop a positive support system;
  • Help youth to successfully integrate back into the community, as well as with their family, peers, and society; and
  • Help reduce youth’s relapse into high-risk and criminal activity.


The appropriate clientele for the Ree*Start program are youth between the ages of 15 and 22 who are with or without criminal justice status and/or have been previously involved with child services. In order to participate in the program, youth must want to change their criminal behaviours and be willing to make a commitment to the program.

Youth are referred to the program by outside agencies and community-based organizations, including family members. Youth may also be self-referred.

Core Components

The Ree*Start program consists of three streams of services:

  • Drop-in and Community Outreach: The drop-in and community outreach stream has been developed to address the increasing demand for service. The drop-in stream allows youth to access supports without an appointment and to address basic and immediate needs. It also provides an opportunity for the youth transition workers to begin the relationship building process with youth. It also provides an opportunity for the youth to ‘check out’ the staff and the program and hopefully begin building trust to the point where they will eventually be ready to begin working on more complex issues in their life;
  • Ongoing and Justice: The ongoing and justice stream has been designed for youth who have demonstrated motivation to set goals and work on issues. To become an ongoing client, the youth must be willing and able to schedule and keep appointments. Workers provide ongoing support in the office and community, including accompanying and/or transporting clients to appointments; and
  • Justice: The justice stream aims to begin the engagement process with youth while they are still incarcerated at the Edmonton Young Offender Centre (EYOC). This stream also works with institutional caseworkers to develop pre-release plans with the youth. The youth are able to follow up with this support once they are released from EYOC into the community. A primary goal of this stream of service is to support the youth in meeting all of their probation/court conditions.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: It is important for lead organizations to collaborate with caseworkers to ensure that youth are able to move away from a criminal lifestyle and achieve prosocial goals once they are released.
  • Partnerships: Organizations should collaborate with family members, child services, and other community-based organizations.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The Ree*Start program has been implemented in Edmonton (Alberta) by the Edmonton John Howard Society. The Ree*Start program was a recipient of the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta (May 2009 – March 2013).

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Ree*Start program. The findings from this study have shown the following:

  • On average, after three years of implementation, for every dollar invested in the program after, a return of $2.61 (CAD) in social value was created.

For more information, refer to the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations’ (2015) publication.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Ree*Start. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from:

For more information on this program, contact:

John Howard Society of Edmonton
10010-105 Street, Suite 401
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 1C4
Telephone: (780) 428-7590

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-12
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: