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The All Children Excel (ACE) Program, is a research-based, evidence-driven intervention that reduces risk factors and builds resiliency in families and children at extreme risk for child maltreatment and serious, violent and chronic (SVJ) delinquency. The program goal is to interrupt multi-generational cycles of pervasive child neglect and abuse, domestic violence, involvement with criminal justice, substance abuse and mental illness. A county multi-disciplinary team support long-term, multi-faceted, and intensive in-home and in-community casework implemented by a community based agency. ACE integrates the efforts of parents and child welfare, mental health, education, juvenile justice, law enforcement, and community resources to promote healthy child development by building on the strengths of families and their children and their communities.
"All Children Excel" (ACE) builds resiliency in children under age 10 whose early onset delinquency indicates they are at high risk for negative developmental outcomes including serious and violent offending, substance abuse, school failure, teen pregnancy, and welfare dependency.
This is the 8% of delinquent children predicted, as adolescents, to commit over 70 % of serious and violent juvenile crime. Each child identified under age 10 who stays on this path will cost taxpayers $1.7 to $3.4 million over the course of his or her lifetime. Single-focus, short-term interventions are inadequate to the needs of multi-problem populations. Through research, ACE determined that what works is a two-pronged approach: (1) a county-sponsored intervention that integrates mental health, criminal justice, education and child welfare services plus, (2) intensive and sustained casework that blends risk reduction with building protective factors in the parents, children, school, and community.
ACE is one of only a handful of science-based programs worldwide that identifies and promotes healthy development in this target population of multi problem children and families. This award-winning program has the potential to reduce racial disparities in developmental outcomes and break the cycle of incarceration, neglect, domestic violence and poverty that perpetuates risk from one generation to the next.
A 2006 comprehensive evaluation showed that for this population of high risk child offenders, living in families with multi-generational risk factors across multiple domains, that engaging and stabilizing these children takes about three years before health development gains begin to have a meaningful impact. This evaluation also found that by their thirteenth birthday, (average age of intake is 8 ½ years), 30.5% of ACE children re-offended, compared with almost 83% of children with a similar risk level who did not receive ACE services.
A prior 2004 evaluation showed that although a majority of children had histories of chronic delinquent behavior prior to enrollment in ACE, 65% had no further police contact and 86% had not been charged with a subsequent offense over a 41/2 year period. Sixty percent displayed no disruptive behavior at school, attended regularly, and got passing grades.
ACE has already received broad recognition for its science-based programming and potential for replication:
Approved as a Promising Program for Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Model Programs Guide Website (January 2006)
Harvard Innovations in American Government Award (semi-finalist 2002)
WT Grant Foundation Youth Development Prize (top ten finalist, 2003)
Invited presentation to the director, U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (May 2003);
Featured in a national broadcast on children and the justice system by National Public Radio (spring 2003)
Selected as an innovative research-to-practice program by the Child Welfare League of America and featured in their publication Children’s Voice (September 2003)
Association of Minnesota Counties – County Achievement Award (December 2000)
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