Age group: Adolescence (12-17)
Gender: Mixed (male and female)
Population served: No specific targeted population
Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0
Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention
The Connections Program provides targeted support services and interventions to students in grades 7 through 12 identified as being at risk of becoming involved with (or who already involved in) the school discipline cycle and/or the criminal justice cycle, non-completion of school, and/or have poor connection to school and peers. Students in the Connections Program may have a variety of risk factors, including behavioural and mental health issues, academic failure, alcohol and substance use, criminal activity, and a lack of healthy relationships with friends and family.
The program connects students to a variety of services they might not otherwise access, including counseling, employment, positive recreational activity, and housing. The program also provides an opportunity for collaborative problem solving and planning with parents and other stakeholders.
Students report a significant increase in their feeling of connectedness to the school, a positive peer group, and to the community, and feel better equipped to deal with stress and crisis both in and outside of school.
The main goals of the Connections Program are to:
- Reduce out of school suspensions;
- Manage discipline issues in school;
- Conduct targeted truancy interventions;
- Deliver a variety of resiliency groups;
- Reduce dropout rates; and
- Increase positive feelings and connectedness to school and community.
The appropriate clientele for the Connections Program are Grades 7 - 12 students (12 - 17 years old) who engage in behaviours that warrant intensive disciplinary action and would be referred for a therapeutic in-school suspension.
The Connections Program is largely based on research that correlates connection and engagement with student outcomes, academically and socially: that is, the more engaged and connected students feel to their school, to a positive peer group, and to community, the better the outcomes.
The core components of the program include the following:
- Connection to school: Clients receive assistance in maintaining and increasing enhanced connection to school and community;
- Relationship building: Students are provided with positive adult mentorship and opportunities to engage in targeted interventions; they will develop coping skills that will enhance school success and reduce the likelihood of involvement in criminal activity; and
- Restorative practices: Training is provided on restorative justice practices.
Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:
- Organizational requirements: The implementing organization should be able to use restorative practices and restorative conferences to address and resolve discipline issues.
- Partnerships: The organization should be able to partner with others working in the community to develop services aimed at reducing violence.
- Training and technical assistance: There should be a commitment to educate and train administrators and key school-based personnel across the division in restorative practices.
- Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
- Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.
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 Connections Program has been implemented in southern Alberta from 2011 to 2014 by Christ the Redeemer Catholic Separate School Regional School Division 3. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.
Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies
No information available.
A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Connections Program. The findings from this study have shown the following:
- The ratio for the Connections Program is 4.71:1, which indicates that $4.71 in social value was created by the program for every dollar invested; and
- Social value was created by avoiding the cost of: additions treatment facility stay, probation and parole, incarceration, legal aid time, court, police call out and investigation, homelessness and school drop outs.
Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Connections Program. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries
For more information on this program, contact:
Telephone: (403) 995-3063
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
- Date modified: