Online tool helps find youth development programs


Colorado communities have a new tool to help identify programs aimed at developing healthy children, free from problems such as bullying, violence, obesity and depression.

The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at CU-Boulder, in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, launched a new interactive website called Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development. The website will allow schools, communities and government agencies to find scientifically proven programs based on their specific needs.

“Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development builds on decades of research about what works to help children reach important developmental milestones,” said Delbert Elliott, Blueprints founder and founding director of CU-Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. “We used to focus primarily on programs that prevented or reduced juvenile delinquency, but research shows that we need to look at the full range of approaches to improve outcomes for young people.”

The website allows users to easily search for programs that target specific age groups, risk factors (such as the availability of drugs), protective factors (such as strong bonds with adult role models) and desired outcomes, among other factors. The website then generates appropriate matches from among 44 Blueprints programs.

Blueprints programs were launched in Colorado in 1996 and many are in long-term use around the state today. The new website makes it easy to select cost-effective programs in addition to accessing critical information about training, staffing and financial resources. The website is located at

Programs include Multisystemic Therapy, which works with juvenile offenders and their families to reduce antisocial behavior and keep them in their homes and schools, rather than in juvenile detention. The program has been shown to generate nearly $25,000 in savings per participant, primarily through reduced crime.

The Denver-based Nurse Family Partnership helps low-income, first-time mothers have a healthy pregnancy and provide responsible care for their children. The program provides home visits from registered nurses until the child is 2 years old and also helps the mothers become more economically self-sufficient.

The Montbello community recently used Blueprints to identify and invest in programs that match their community’s prioritized risk and protective factors.

The Casey Foundation plans to use Blueprints as part of Evidence2Success, a new model aimed at increasing public investment in proven programs that promote children’s health and development. The first Evidence2Success site, in Providence, R.I., will use Blueprints later this year.

“Today’s leaders are seeking programs that are grounded in solid evidence that shows they have a positive impact on children’s lives,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “Blueprints gives leaders easy access to valuable information they can use to make critical decisions about which programs offer the greatest likelihood of creating a path to success for our nation’s young people.”

Each Blueprints program has been reviewed by Blueprints staff and an external advisory board of prevention experts that thoroughly examines the evidence for each program.

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is developed and managed by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence in CU-Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science in partnership with the Dartington Social Research Unit in the United Kingdom, and is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.