Focusing on girls’ futures: Results from the evaluation of PACE Center for Girls
The current report focuses mainly on the impact and cost analyses for the PACE evaluation. (Implementation research findings, released in an earlier report, found that PACE consistently implemented its program model and incorporated gender-responsive programming across its centers.) The impact analysis employed a random assignment design: Girls who applied to and were deemed eligible for PACE (using the program’s existing screening processes) enrolled in the study and were assigned at random either to a program group, whose members were offered PACE services, or to a control group, whose members received appropriate referrals to other services in the community. From August 2013 to November 2015, 1,125 girls enrolled in the study across 14 PACE centers. Using survey and administrative data, the research team measured differences between the program and control groups on short-term outcomes. Differences that emerge between the two groups on these outcomes can be attributed to the PACE program. Key Findings The program group received more academic and social services — and received them more often from a professional source — than the control group. Over a one-year period, PACE increased school enrollment and attendance for the girls it served, compared with the control group. Girls in the program group were also more likely to be “on track” academically than those in the control group. Girls in both the program and control groups appeared goal-oriented and hopeful about their futures and reported relatively low levels of risky behavior one year after study enrollment. Rates of formal involvement in the juvenile justice system during the 18 months after study enrollment were similar for the program and control groups. The cost of PACE’s holistic package of services is, on average, $10,400 more than the cost of the services received by control group members through academic and social services provided in the community. The additional cost is largely driven by PACE’s extensive social services; the cost of academic services is similar to those of Florida public schools. The findings on academic outcomes are promising. Further follow-up research would be necessary to see whether PACE affects longer-term academic and delinquency outcomes and to complete a full benefit-cost analysis.