Assessing the Return on Investment from Interventions that Target Vulnerable Populations in Baltimore: A Preliminary Analysis
Optimal Solutions Group
Reason to Believe is a civic partnership between city and state government, the foundation community and the business sector. Its mission is to raise and invest local and state funds to reverse predictable negative outcomes and improve life chances of vulnerable children, youth and families in Baltimore City. The Reason to Believe Campaign has identified five groups that cost Maryland taxpayers millions in special education, social services, incarceration costs, and lost wages. Research suggests that Marylandtaxpayers could benefit from investing in preventative and early intervention programs that have been proven to address the following:
Substance-using parents whose children are at risk of being placed in foster care;
Young families in crisis, and particularly mothers whose babies are at risk of being born prematurely or with low birth weight;
Preschoolers unprepared for school success;
Youth, ages 13-17, likely to commit or be a victim of violent crime;
Ex-offenders re-entering the community.
In this brief analysis, Optimal Solutions Group (OSG) provides a preliminary framework for estimating the fiscal costs associated with the targeted populations and an assessment of the benefits of early intervention strategies that could reduce the likelihood of future government expenditures. OSG researchers provide preliminary evidence that well-designed and well-implemented early intervention programs could yield significant returns on investment. However, these returns can only be realized if policymakers’ time horizons extend beyond one fiscal year. To the extent that policy-making and state budgeting are short sighted, taxpayers will miss opportunities to save dollars and provide muchneeded help to individuals in their communities.
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