RADAR: Re-Engaging Academically Disconnected Adolescents Respectfully

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Gang-involved (and/or at risk); Homeless and/or runaway; Placed out-of-home; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Academic issues; Crime issues involving a mental health disorder or other health disorder; Social development

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting; Social services setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

Re-Engaging Academically Disconnected Adolescents Respectfully (RADAR) is an initiative designed to fill gaps in support for Calgary youth aged 13 to 15 who are on the spectrum of homelessness and are disconnected from their family, school, and community. These youth have an accumulation of risk factors that include: school non-attendance, criminal involvement, exposure to gangs, sexual exploitation, substance abuse and addictions, mental health issues, family conflict, lack of supportive adults in their lives, and the influence of negative peer groups. The multi-layered needs of these youth, coupled with the developmental stage of early adolescence, highlight the importance of a coordinated and flexible approach. To this end, organizations representing education, health, youth shelters, children’s services, and youth justice help reconnect these youth to the essential supports of school, family, and community.

The program is centered on academic support; conflict resolution; counselling and social work; leadership and youth development; skills training; social emotional learning; and truancy prevention.

Goals

The main goals of the RADAR program are to:

  • Help homeless and academically disengaged youth reconnect with normative supports of school, family, and community; and
  • Help youth succeed.

Clientele

The appropriate clientele for the RADAR program are youth between the ages of 13 and 15 who are on the spectrum of homelessness and are disconnected from their family, school, and community.

Participants are referred to the program by RADAR’s Operational Committee, which is responsible for triaging youth and assessing their eligibility for RADAR’s support. Youth may also be referred by youth shelters, the Child and Family Services Authority, health services, and youth probation services.

To participate in the program, youth must be disconnected from their family and their community, be unenrolled in school, and face substantial barriers in re-engaging in a mainstream educational setting. Youth may also have been involved with the youth justice system and/or children’s services.

Core Components

The RADAR program consists of:

  • Engagement activities: At the initial stages, youth are provided with food, clothing, and school supplies. They then undergo individualized program planning;
  • Stabilization activities: Once individualized programming has been established, youth then participate in educational programs and probation support. They are also granted access to health and mental health services, housing support, and recreational outlets in which they can attach to positive adults; and
  • Transition activities: At this stage, individualized transition plans are established for each youth. Participants are also provided with the supports necessary to transition to stable residential settings and school settings. They are also given the supports necessary to connect with their community. From there, youth are offered ongoing support from transition workers.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization must mobilize existing resources to meet program needs and support transitioning youth.
  • Partnerships: The success of the RADAR program depends on its partnerships with schools and school boards, community and neighbourhood services, youth probation services, health services, child and family 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 RADAR program has been implemented in at-risk communities in Calgary, Alberta (2008-2013). The RADAR program, in its current format of classroom and wraparound supports, ended in June, 2013. This innovative program received funding from The Safe Communities Innovation Fund and support from a number of partner agencies.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

An outcome evaluation study of the RADAR program was conducted in 2008-2011 by Inness. The evaluation had three components: a qualitative outcome evaluation; a developmental evaluation; and a social return on investment (SROI) analysis. Youth’s progress was tracked throughout their participation in RADAR programming and for up to 24 months following participation. Altogether, a total of 99 youth were referred to RADAR. Of these 99 referrals, 41 were taking part in RADAR programming (active and transitioned youth). In the present study, information from referral and intake forms was supplemented by youth participation surveys and interviews with youth and relevant staff.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • RADAR continues to successfully engage and connect vulnerable youth to appropriate supports and services. The number of referrals and the range of referral sources mean that RADAR is known across youth serving systems and the referral pathways are established; and
  • 10 of RADAR’s 18 active youth were in attendance in the RADAR classroom more than 40% of the time. Considering that most of the active youth had not attended school regularly for more than one year, these attendance rates suggest that RADAR is effectively supporting these youth to begin to re-engage with educational programming and to exhibit some student-like behaviour.

For more information, refer to Inness’ (2012) publication.

Cost Information

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

  • Using a trauma-informed approach, RADAR staff support and help these young people meet their basic needs, re-engage with school, reconnect with family or other healthy adults, and find and maintain safe, stable, and appropriate living arrangements;
  • With the supports provided through RADAR, many of these young people get off the street, and the community no longer incurs the costs related to crime, homelessness, and failure to complete high school; and
  • Considering the many risk factors and the intermittent ability for youth to engage with staff and programming, it has been determined that, over three years, the average SROI ratio was 2.68:1.

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

References

Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Re-Engaging Academically Disconnected Adolescents Respectfully (RADAR). Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries 

Inness, M. (2012). R.A.D.A.R. (Re-engaging Academically Disconnected Adolescents Respectfully) – Program & Developmental Evaluation: Year Three Evaluation Report, MPI Associates.

For more information on this program, contact:

Community Triage Table Chair
Telephone: (403) 777-6990, ext. 29
E-mail: abontje@bgcc.ab.ca

Manager of Education
Telephone: (403) 520-1517
E-mail: klove@bgcc.ab.ca


Record Entry Date - 2018-03-09

Date modified: