Looking After Children (LAC)

Program snapshot

Age group: Late childhood (7-11); Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Placed out-of-home

Topic: Antisocial/deviant behaviours

Setting: Urban area; Social services setting

Location: Quebec

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

Looking After Children (LAC) is a program designed to improve the care provided to children and youth placed in foster families. By promoting youth development and resilience, the LAC program aims to reduce youth’s risk of engaging in criminal behaviour.

The program is centered on community mobilization; conflict resolution; counselling and social work; leadership and youth development; skills training; and social emotional learning.


The main goals of the LAC program are to:

  • Improve care provided to children and youth placed in foster families in order to reduce the risk of future offences; and
  • Guide interventions and improve the existing experiences and living conditions of foster children in order to promote their optimal development and build resilience.


The appropriate clientele for the LAC program are youth between the ages of 8 and 16 who are in foster care. Participants are referred to the LAC program by four participating youth centres located in the Outaouais, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Chaudière-Appalaches, and Montréal (Batshaw Youth and Family Centres) regions.

To participate in the program, youth must have been in a regular foster home for at least six months with a planned duration of at least two years.

Core Components

The LAC program consists of:

  • Presentations, which are delivered to foster parents and stakeholders to inform them of the pilot program and the LAC approach in general; and
  • Three to four different lectures, which take place at the youth centres each year. These group lectures, consisting of 15 to 20 staff, youth, and foster parents, involve discussions pertaining to a variety of topics of interests relating to youth development and resiliency.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization must have solid skills in outreach, intake and assessment, case planning, and program delivery.
  • Partnerships: The success of the LAC program depends on its partnerships with family members, social workers, and other professionals.
  • Training and technical assistance: Staff must be trained on how to correctly administer the risk assessment tool to children and their families.
  • Risk assessment tools: Youth are evaluated using the Assessment and Action Record (AAR).
  • 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 LAC program between 2004 and 2009. The LAC project has been implemented by the Association des centres jeunesse du Québec in Montreal, Quebec.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation studyFootnote1 of the LAC was conducted in 2004-2009 by Poirier and colleagues. A quasi-experimental, longitudinal study comparing an experimental group and a control group was used to evaluate the LAC program.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Destructive behaviour involving property was significantly reduced in the LAC children and youth participants;
  • Self-esteem improved significantly between the first and second periods, although it inexplicably then decreased by the third period; and
  • More reports of crisis situations were made for the control group (73.3% versus 26.7%). In 2008, for instance, 81% of emergency measures (temporary placements lasting 0 to 5 days) were carried out in this group, which received a greater number of rehabilitation interventions with placement and therefore more frequent crisis management.

For more information, refer to the National Crime Prevention Centre’s (2012) publication.

Cost Information

No information available.


National Crime Prevention Centre. (2012). Pilot Project to Implement the Looking After Children (LAC) Approach in Quebec. Evaluation Summary. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/lkng-ftr-chldrn/index-eng.aspx

Poirier, M. A., et al. (2009). Rapport final du projet S’occuper des enfants (SOCEN) au Québec. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

For more information on this program, contact:

Association des centres jeunesse du Québec
1001 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West, Suite 410
Montreal, Quebec H3A 3C8
Telephone: (514) 842-5181

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-27
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
  1. 1

    A process evaluation study of the program was also conducted through Public Safety Canada’s funding. For more information, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

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