Solutions for Family Court Judges working with troubled youth

2019-06-26 09:46:56 - United States, Massachusetts, Framingham - (PR Distribution™)

Meeting Family First Legislative Mandates

New federal legislation incentivizes state and county governments to place abused and neglected children in family-like settings where they have a better chance of thriving and finding the love they deserve. All too often, these children are placed in expensive (average $146,000/year) residential placements where they pick up bad habits and feel abandoned. Research from Outcome Referrals also shows that in residential care, these children end up far less resilient.

Helping family court judges find the right family-like setting is key and Outcome Referrals and several child welfare jurisdictions will show other jurisdictions how they are leading the way in treating these children in family-like placements with the right balance of extra supports that make the process safe and successful. 

With leaders from counties in Colorado and North Carolina, Outcome Referrals will be presenting their unique approach on August 20 - 21, 2019 where the federal government is hosting a National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC on with a timely discussion focused on Leveraging Data and Evaluation to Strengthen Families and Promote Well-Being.

A key benefit of Outcome Referrals’ Treatment Outcome Package (TOP) is the ability to easily engage families and children as raters, giving the judge instant access to the various perspectives of a case. Judges like the ability to ask their own questions and the TOP, multi-rater report allows them to ask educated questions, like: “Why did the probation officer rate the kid as having lots of conduct problems but everyone else says they are doing fine.” In some cases, the probation officer then admits that he based his responses on old information, sometimes more than six months old.

Big datamining techniques and artificial intelligence are used to mine a large database of client and rater responses to figure out a short list of service providers that can double the effectiveness of care, so argue the preliminary results from a federally funded randomized clinical trial from the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI). Extending this breakthrough research will be a first-of-its-kind randomized clinical trial funded by The Duke Endowment that is expected to show how these at-risk children can be better served at lower cost in the community. 

Jennifer Evans from Wake County North Carolina will show how their use of the system has reduced the use of residential care to half of the national rates. Barb Weinstein from Jefferson County Colorado will discuss how she uses TOP multi-rater reports as the director to ensure that residential placements are necessary and of the shortest length possible. Jim Drendel from Larimer County Colorado will provide case examples that exemplify why collecting the voice of the child is essential in meeting these new federal mandates.

TOP’s power comes from its great predictive abilities. Unlike other systems that can only predict about 5% of outcome variance, published studies on the TOP show it can predict more than 53% of outcome variance. The latest big-data models show the TOP can predict 71% of the variance in child welfare populations. “This will revolutionize how we deliver care to children in the greatest need,” says Dr. Kraus, President of Outcome Referrals, and the principal investigator on TOP algorithms. “When you can predict how the child will respond to treatment with that much variance explained, we can finally help judges decide which children need residential care and which ones can be better served with a loving family.


Outcome Referrals, Inc. ( is based in Framingham Massachusetts and specializes in measuring the quality of behavioral health, child welfare and services for children in juvenile justice. With thirty years of research and the largest de-identified database of care results, Outcome Referrals mines this data for insights and algorithms to improve the quality of care. In the first federally funded randomized clinical trial of a referral system in any field of medicine, for example, initial results from researchers at UMass and SUNY are showing that a simple method of using therapists’ outcome data to inform referral decisions dramatically improves the quality of care.


If you would like more information about this topic, please call JoAnn Bouzan at 508-834-7323, or email her at [email protected]

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