In It Together - Abbotsford Comprehensive Community Action for Gang Reduction

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24); Adult (25-64)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Adult offenders; Gang-involved (and/or at risk); Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Gang and/or related criminal activities; Recidivism

Setting: Rural/remote area; Community-based setting

Location: British Columbia

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: In progress

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

In It Together (IIT), otherwise known as the Abbotsford Comprehensive Community Action for Gang Reduction program, is based on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Comprehensive Gang Model,Footnote1 and uses its comprehensive, three-pronged approach to reduce youth gang activities.   

The In It Together program is centered on community mobilization; recreation; mentoring; parent education; mediation; outreach; support; counselling for families; school support; employment readiness; skills development; monitoring; and re-entry support.

Goals

The main goals of the In It Together program are to:

  • Prevent young people from participating in gang activity or violent crime;
  • Have gang-involved youth exit from the gang lifestyle; and
  • Achieve positive family relationships through increased parental involvement in the youth’s activities.

Clientele

The appropriate clientele for the In It Together program is youth and adults between the ages of 12 and 30 (and their families) who reside in/are involved in gang activity in Abbotsford, or at high-risk of gang involvement. The program also deals with gang members who are in contact with police and are in the criminal justice system.

Participants are referred to the program by the Abbotsford police, schools, and social services.

To participate in the program, participants must be at high risk, defined as having more than 5 risk factors across the individual, peer, school, family, and community domains.

Core Components

The intensity and duration of the In It Together program is matched to needs. Typically, this will involve weekly meetings and Friday and Saturday recreation opportunities. The program components include the following:

  • Primary prevention: presentations on positive parenting, prevention advice, and age-appropriate developmental and social expectations are given to parents. Individual support for parents is also available;
  • Secondary prevention: at-risk youth (12-18 years old) who have already had contact with police are identified for skill building and pro-social recreational activities, one-on-one services with an outreach worker, and individualized case management;
  • Interventions for gang affiliated youth: youth (12-24 years old) with a history of gang affiliation, or those known to police, receive more intensive services;
  • Suppression: voluntary curfew checks take place for the highest risk youth; and
  • Re-entry: additional services are offered to participants aged 18-30 who are finishing their sentences for gang-related crimes. These services help youth to successfully reintegrate back into the community.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization must ensure that the program is in line with community needs.
  • Partnerships: The success of the In It Together program depends on its partnerships with Abbotsford police services, health services, social services, and schools.
  • Training and technical assistance: Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) provides risk assessment and policy/procedures training to all staff members. Staff must also be trained about the OJJDP’s Comprehensive Gang Model.
  • Risk assessment tools: Youth are evaluated using the ASSET tool.
  • 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

Public Safety Canada's National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the In It Together program in Abbotsford, British Columbia, between 2013 and 2018. The In It Together program is implemented by Abbotsford Community Services.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of In It Together was conducted in 2018 by Gagnon & Duncan.  A mixed-methods research design that included both quantitative and qualitative components was used to evaluate In It Together.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • More than a third (39%) of participants showed a decrease in their total risk scores at follow-up (average of 26 months following program entry).  More than half of those who graduated had decreased total risk scores at follow-up.
  • The IIT program reported a measurable impact on attachment to school for youth participants.  Youth in the program missed fewer days of school after joining the program than before they started, with those who successfully completed the program attending almost 2 weeks of school more per year more post-program. 
  • Youth in the program also improved their behaviour at school with 41% of participants receiving fewer suspensions per year post-program.
  • According to police records from September 2012 to August 2018, forty percent of youth program participants and just over fifty percent of program graduates decreased their number of chargeable offenses.  A similar pattern (with smaller proportions) was observed with the number of police contacts.  Although youth appear to still be engaged in antisocial behaviour, they are involved in less severe behaviours or are in more peripheral roles.

Cost Information

Between 2013-2014 and 2018-2019, the IIT program cost a total of $6,128,108.27 to deliver. Costs range from a high of $25,640.25 per primary participant (i.e., youth) to $4,135.03 when family members, secondary participants and parent forum attendees are included in the definition of program ‘participant’.  Hourly direct dosage rates averaged $198.07/hour (Gagnos & Duncan, 2018, p. 91-95).

References

Gagnon, N. & Duncan, L. (2018). In It Together Final Evaluation Report. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

For more information on this program, contact:

Abbotsford Community Services
2420 Montrose Avenue
Abbotsford, British Columbia V2S 3S9
Phone: (604) 859-7681
E-mail: info@abbotsfordcommunityservices.com
Website: http://www.abbotsfordcommunityservices.com/


Record Entry Date - 2018-02-23

  1. 1

    For more information on the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model, also known as the Gang Reduction Program, refer to the specific program descriptive sheet.

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