Project Early Intervention (PEI)

Program snapshot

Age group: Late childhood (7-11)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Aggressive/violent behaviours; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Social/economic disadvantage

Setting: Rural/remote area; Urban area; Community-based setting; Recreational/sport-based setting

Location: Newfoundland and Labrador; Ontario

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 2

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Project Early Intervention (PEI) program provides high-quality programming and life skills education opportunities to children who are identified as at risk for criminal behaviour. The program is designed to make young people more resilient and give them skills to manage anger, solve problems, and steer clear of crime.

The program is centered on skills training; after school programming; and recreational programming and is implemented in high risk social housing areas (urban or rural).


The main goals of the PEI program are to:

  • Offer options and opportunities for children to develop prosocial attitudes and skills;
  • Increase resiliency to risk factors associated with criminal behaviour; and
  • Reduce violence and antisocial behaviour.


The appropriate clientele for the PEI program is high-risk children and youth between the ages of 6 and 12 living in a high-needs social housing neighbourhoods.

The program gives priority to youth who have a sibling or parent involved in the criminal justice system; who are living in homes affected by domestic violence; and/or who are engaged in behaviour likely to result in charges under the Youth Criminal Justice Act if they were the age of criminal responsibility.

Core Components

The PEI program consists of:

  • Life skills program: Hosted in a classroom space in a local school, the life skills program is divided into two groupings: Just for Kids (for children aged 6 to 9) and Skills and Thrills (for children aged 10 to 12). The complete life skills program is comprised of three 5-week models, themselves comprised each of 10 sessions (2 sessions per week);
  • Sports and recreation: Sports and recreation programming is an integral part of PEI, used both as an outreach tool to build initial relationships and trust with youth, as well as a landscape within which life skills participants can practice and apply the skills learned in the classroom. Varied activities are important so that children who have different interests and needs will be attracted to these programs; and
  • Homework club: This component gives young people in the community the opportunity to do their homework after school under supervised conditions (e.g., a part-time high school student can act as supervisors of the program).

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: A strong and stable management team is needed. There must be a proper analysis of community needs and existing services.
  • Partnerships: The PEI program is built on strong community partnerships among health/mental health and social service agencies, police, schools, tenants associations, and businesses. A strong community presence is also needed (e.g., neighbourhood organizations provide facilities and equipment). School and parental involvement are critical to the success of the program.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: If the primary language in the social housing neighbourhood is not English or French, the program must plan to facilitate language and translation requirements.

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

In total, from 1999 to 2007, 2 organizations have been supported by Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy to implement the PEI program.

Programs are listed alphabetically:Footnote1

  • The Boys and Girls Clubs of Newfoundland and Labrador (Newfoundland) (2002-2007) (process and outcome evaluation completed): this PEI program was implemented in the city of St. John’s and on Bell Island; and
  • The Ottawa Police Services Youth Centre (which merged with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa in January 2002) (Ontario) (1999-2003) (process and outcome evaluation completed): this PEI program was implemented in two social housing neighbourhoods in Ottawa.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

Study 1

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of the PEI program was conducted in (2003) by the Astwood Strategy Corporation. The study employed a quasi-experimental design with comparison group (waitlist) to examine the PEI program in two social housing neighbourhoods in Ottawa, Ontario.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • The PEI program had a positive influence on both younger and older children, both boys and girls. Improvements were recorded among youth in the areas of aggression/acting out, irresponsibility/inattentiveness, being socially withdrawn and fearfulness/anxiety. Positive social functioning was also promoted.

For more information, refer to the National Crime Prevention Centre’s (2007) publication.  

Study 2

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of the PEI program was conducted by SPR Associates Inc. (2002-2007). The study employed a quasi-experimental design with control group (waitlist) to examine the implementation of the PEI program in two high-risk areas of Newfoundland.

 Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  •  Multivariate statistical analyses were supportive of qualitative findings and statistical results in 2003-2005, indicating notable and statistically significant positive impacts of the program, particularly for life skills; and
  • Results indicate clearly that ‘post’ life skills children were more likely to use time in positive ways, exhibiting higher ratings in life skills behaviour, and were less likely to spend time with other children who “got into trouble”.

For more information, refer to the SPR Associates Inc.’s (2007) publication.

Cost Information

In 2007, as part of SPR Associates Inc.’s outcome evaluation study, it was found that the average cost per child completion in the PEI program was $7,755 CAD.


Astwood Strategy Corporation. (2003). Final Report: Evaluation of Project Early Intervention. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

National Crime Prevention Centre. (2007). Project Early Intervention. Evaluation Summary. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from:

SPR Associates Inc. (2007). Boys and Girls Clubs of Newfoundland and Labrador Project Early Intervention final evaluation report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

For more information on this program, contact:

Research Division, Public Safety Canada
340 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-09
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
  1. 1

    Process evaluation studies of the PEI program were also conducted through Public Safety Canada’s funding. For more information, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

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