On this page we present detailed results for our Functional Family Therapy model in Houston. You can find information about the following topics:

Baseline Demographics

Juvenile Crime



A Closer Look: Sharpstown Super Neighborhood

Financial Savings

Comparison with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There are approximately 1,450 juveniles aged 10-16 who, in the past 12 months, were released to parole, put on probation, or given supervisory caution after encountering the juvenile justice system.

Houston has more than 80 Super Neighborhoods, which are grouped into six Health Service Regions (see corresponding map). These regions are then paired up into Planning Areas:

South - Planning Area A

South East - Planning Area A

North - Planning Area B

North East - Planning Area B

Central West - Planning Area C

South West - Planning Area C

More information on which planning area a particular neighborhood falls under is available here.

This intervention would prevent 266 fewer juvenile arrests in the three years following the program. Also, the intervention would prevent 40 fewer juvenile incarcerations in the three years following the program. These incarcerations on average last a year and a half.

As the populations ages into adulthood, we estimate the intervention would prevent 283 fewer arrests, 18 fewer jailings, and 19 fewer incarcerations for the cohort between ages 17-30.

We estimate an additional 43 high school graduates because of the program.

We estimate participants of the program reduce substance abuse by about 46 days per year due to the program. This comes out to about 67,000 total days for the population. Further, we estimate 209 fewer youths will be chemically dependent annually.

Sexual abuse is a health concern for the incarcerated population. Due to the reduction in incarcerations, we estimate 11 fewer instances of sexual abuse in the incarceration system. More than 90% of these instances would have occurred during juvenile incarceration.

Sharpstown is a Super Neighborhood in Houston that benefits particularly well from this intervention. The percentage of 10-16 year olds in all of Houston who end up receiving the intervention is 0.72%. The number for Sharpstown is more than double that (1.60%), which helps explain why the intervention is so successful there.

Three years after the program, Sharpstown experiences 19 avoided arrests, 76 avoided unsolved juvenile crimes, and 3 avoided incarcerations. Greater Uptown, Brays Oaks, South Belt / Ellington, and Mid West see the next largest benefit, but it's less than half the benefit experienced by Sharpstown.

Sharpstown is also the Super Neighborhood with the most averted incidences between ages 17-30, with 21 avoided arrests, 1 avoided jailing, and 1 avoided incarceration. Again, this is twice the amount of the next highest Super Neighborhood, Greater Uptown.

Sharpstown is also the beneficiary of three additional high school graduates due to the intervention, as well as 15 fewer chemically dependent youths and one fewer instance of sexual abuse during incarceration.

The program begins to bring in steady positive returns in year 2. In year 50, the savings to county, state, and federal governments are approximately $3,700. Returns become positive in Year 3. By year 50, discounted returns approach $2.7 million. For an initial cost of $3.9 million this comes out to $1.71 returns for every dollar initially invested. For savings to the county only, the return is $0.73 for every dollar initially invested.

Maintaining the program in perpetuity leads to even greater yearly savings, although it takes until Year 4 for them to become positive. By year 50, returns are $141.8 million. For a cost of $167.4 million, this comes out to $1.85 returns for every dollar initially invested. For savings to the county only, the return is $0.80 for every dollar initially invested.

The largest percentage of savings from the program, 62% in total, comes from reduced juvenile crime, which is broken down into arrests (24%) and incarceration (38%). Adulthood crime makes up 27% of the savings through arrests (11%), jailing (3%), and incarceration (13%). Roughly 8% of savings come from increased earnings through incomes and sales taxes. The remaining sources are Substance Use (3%) and School Attendance (1%).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an alternative program suggested for reducing recidivism among juvenile offenders. For more detailed results on the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program, click here. For an identical population, we find that Functional Family Therapy is more effective at reducing future juvenile criminal incidents.

Because of its greater effectiveness in reducing juvenile recidivism, Functional Family Therapy is estimated to have a stronger effect on adult criminal incidents as well.

Furthermore, Functional Family Therapy is more effective at preventing substance abuse among the eligible population.

However, due to its lower costs, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has a better return on investment, from county sources as well as the total county/state/federal sources.