The CYD program is one of the longest-standing juvenile delinquency prevention programs in Texas and serves approximately 18,000 youth per year. The program was established in 1995 and provided a range of services, including tutoring, mentoring, and after-school activities in 23 ZIP codes across 15 counties with high juvenile delinquency incidences.
- Policy question: What is the impact of CYD on juvenile delinquency, education, and labor market outcomes?
- Methodology: Utilizing DFPS’ CYD participant data, publicly available data on juvenile delinquency, and administrative data from the Texas Education Agency, we have designed a quasi-experimental approach to assess the program’s impact at the county, zip code, and individual level. Specifically, we utilize the rich administrative data to implement a propensity score matching method to construct a comparison group for each participant. Those in the comparison live in statistically similar zip codes, study in similar schools, and have similar socioeconomic characteristics to the program participants. Rich administrative data also allows us to compare the effectiveness of CYD’s various services across the state.
- Results: Being eligible for the CYD program has a small nonsignificant effect on students’ behavioral outcomes. It is associated with a small reduction in the absence rate, a 0.25 percentage point decrease. In contrast, it is associated with a small increase in the suspension rate, a 0.15 percentage point increase.
Program eligibility has a negative nonsignificant effect on students’ test performance, decreasing by about 0.02 standard deviations in the mean standardized math and reading test scores. Our findings do not imply that the CYD program is ineffective.
For further research, it is necessary to collect data that tracks and monitors program participants and nonparticipants. It is not possible with our employed methodology and available data to determine whether the CYD program reaches its target group living in disadvantaged neighborhoods and changes this group’s behavior and academic outcomes.