ExCel Assisted Reintegration from Custody to Home (ARCH)

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Adult offenders; Homeless and/or runaway; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Crime issues involving a mental health disorder or other health disorder; Recidivism

Setting: Urban area; Social services setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

The ARCH program is targeted to youth serving open custody sentences at the Enviros ExCel Discovery Program and provides up to six months of post-discharge service through an individualized support plan aimed at consolidating and maintaining the youth’s progress while in the therapeutic open custody program at ExCel.

ARCH Transition Facilitators build strong positive relationships with the youth prior to release and then support the youth to find housing, reconnect with their education or vocational training, find employment and deal with personal issues related to substance abuse and mental health concerns.

The program works hard to improve relationships between youth and their families, and ensures youth connection to natural advocates (i.e., positive social support network) prior to release.

Strong partnerships with Calgary Board of Education and Alberta Health Services facilitate access to educational services, as well as addiction treatment and mental health services.


The main goals of the ARCH program are:

  • Youth are aware of and develop/implement strategies to address their own risk factors for criminal behaviour;
  • Youth are successful in making behaviour changes post-custody;
  • Youth are successfully prevented from repeating past criminal offences and/or engaging in behaviour that could lead to continued criminal offences;
  • Youth are aware of and develop/implement strategies to make the best use of their strengths and resilience to avoid re-offending;
  • Youth are supported in maintaining good mental health and/or addressing mental health issues where needed;
  • Youth are supported in being addiction-free, and/or in addressing addiction and substance abuse issues, where needed;
  • Youth are successful in continuing their education and/or vocational training;
  • Youth are able to initiate and follow through with access to supports, as needed, in their home communities;
  • Youth, and their families where applicable, receive assistance to access services appropriate to their unique needs; and
  • Youth experience support for 3 months post-custody targeting their successful reintegration.


The adolescents (aged 15-18 years old) involved in both the ExCel and ARCH programs have all been involved in the criminal justice system. Prior to their involvement in the program, most of the youth have led chaotic lives, and they are often unable to receive support from their families as they may have previously experienced violence and abuse in their homes. Often, participants are homeless or have lived on the streets for a period of time. Despite their young age, many have been exposed to drug use, some have developed addictions, and a few have been involved in selling drugs. Many of the participants also have significant mental health concerns, and potentially undiagnosed mental illness.

Core Components

The core components of the ARCH program are:

  • Experiential Learning (both urban and wilderness based);
  • Strengths-based Practice; and
  • Solution Focused Brief Therapy/Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.  

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: Enviros is a non-profit organization, structured with a governance board and an Executive Director who oversee agency operations. A structure like this is conducive for program success.
  • Partnerships: Enviros services are provided collaboratively with several community partners, including Alberta Health Services Addiction Services (formerly AADAC) and Forensic Adolescent Program (FAP); the Alberta Solicitor General Young Offender Branch and Calgary Young Offenders Centre (CYOC); Alberta Learning - Calgary Board of Education - Westview High School; and the Enviros ExCel program. Specialists in mental health, addictions and education are provided by these project partners and offer services onsite at the Enviros ExCel program.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Youth in the program had access to mental health treatment, youth transition, housing, and FASD resources.

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

This program was based out of Calgary, Alberta. From April 2010 to January 2015.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

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

  • The SROI analysis of the ARCH program found that for every dollar invested in the program, an average of $13.37 of social value was created ($9.04 in social value in the first year of operation, $17.34 of value in the second year and $13.74 of value in the third year); and
  • Social value is created through reduction in justice costs such as court, police time, incarceration, victimization, cost of crimes, as well as value to participants such as finishing high school, part time employment, reduced addictions, and counseling.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Excel Assisted Reintegration from Custody to Home (ARCH). 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:

Enviros Wilderness School Association
Melissa Gruber
Phone: (403)219-3499
E-mail: mgruber@enviros.org

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-22
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: