Start Smart Stay Safe (S4)

Program snapshot

Age group: Late childhood (7-11)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Families

Topic: Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Bullying/cyberbullying; Gang and/or related criminal activities

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting; School-based

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Primary crime prevention

Brief Description

Start Smart Stay Safe Children and Families (S4) is composed of two complementary projects: one focused on children in schools (the S4 Children’s Project) and the second focused on children and their families (the S4 Family Project).

The S4 is a collaborative initiative between the Calgary Police Service (CPS), Calgary Board of Education (CBE), Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) and Mount Royal University (MRU).  The intention was to support schools in a meaningful way and to move the perception of community policing toward education and prevention, away from the perception of policing as limited to law enforcement. The S4 initiative aims to build skills and knowledge that support students in successfully navigating through challenging situations such as bullying, the cyber world, and pressure to misuse substances or engage in high-risk behaviors.

As a demonstration project, the S4 Children’s Project has been developed, piloted and evaluated for implementation for children from Grade 1 to Grade 6 and their parents in schools from the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District. The participating schools have had an opportunity to welcome police officers into classrooms and schools to inform and support a shift in paradigm in education and law enforcement toward a strengths-based model of responsible citizenship. As part of the S4 Children’s Project, uniformed police officers co-facilitated lessons in the classrooms, and attended other unstructured activities in schools as well as after-hours events organized by the schools. The number of visits ranged from one to four per class, per school year depending on the school.


The main goals of the Start Smart Stay Safe program are to:

  • Establish a consistent, sustainable delivery model for police to respond to requests from schools for police safety messaging (e.g., safety, drug use, bullying and gangs);
  • Increase student, teacher and parent perception of police as positive, supportive members of the community;
  • Support teachers and police in the co-facilitation of strengths-based messaging in schools and family engagement activities;
  • Enhance students’ awareness of the internal and external protective factors they have to meet adversity;
  • Enhance knowledge among parents about the stages of child development – including emotional, social, cognitive and brain development and their relation to parenting practice;
  • Collaborate with families, building upon their existing strengths and resiliency, to inform effective parenting practices; and
  • To intentionally engage school communities in enhancing support of families and children.


The Start Smart Stay Safe program was piloted with students in grades 1 through 6, in 15 Calgary schools - 10 in Calgary Board of Education and 5 in Calgary Catholic School District schools.

Core Components

In the children’s component, uniformed police officers and school personnel co-facilitated lessons in classrooms and engaged in other unstructured activities (i.e., gym, assembly, recess) with children, using a strengths-based approach to promote pro-social skills development.

The family component engaged families to participate in discussions, educational sessions, and activities to practice skills aimed at building child and family resilience and ultimately reducing crime and victimization.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: The success of the Project depended, to a great degree, on the extent to which the schools were able to make S4 a unifying philosophy, integrate the Project into their daily work and make S4 visible in their schools. The pilot has clearly demonstrated that S4 is a valuable addition to the existing curriculum and that it is well-integrated or easily integrated with some aspects of that curriculum, particularly in schools that offer the Circle of Courage program.
  • Partnerships: Start Smart Stay Safe (S4) is a partnership of the Calgary Police Service, Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Catholic School District, and Mount Royal University’s Centre for Child Well-Being.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: No specific materials were developed for this program. However, program organizers recommend developing materials that align with education initiatives and school curriculum in your area, that are simple, brief and accessible to all participants (teachers, police and parents) in different ways including an easy to navigate website. As well, program organizers recommend allocating sufficient time and resources to develop and test project activities and materials, to develop and clarify project vision and responsibilities and to develop and maintain positive relationships among project partners and participants.

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

Start Smart Stay Safe program was first implemented in Calgary, Alberta from April 2010 to June 2015.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

The SROI for Start Smart Stay Safe program was calculated over three years. The project was implemented over two school years, with the first year being used to develop the project and related resource materials. This SROI reflects data from the first and second years of implementation that were delivered as a pilot. Data gathered during this pilot year was compared against baseline data. The SROI calculated for the third year is a forecast, using trends in the data from years one and two.

The SROI analysis reveals that over three years of pilot funding, Start Smart Stay Safe program creates an average of $1.42 of social value for every dollar invested in the program.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Start Smart Stay Safe (S4). Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from:

For more information on this program, contact:

Calgary Police Service
Curtis Olson
Telephone: (403) 990-7182
Services Section Phone : (403) 428-8399
Website :   

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-12
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: