Intercept Program Evaluation Shows Reductions in Likelihood of Out-of-home Placement

Youth Villages InterceptTM (Intercept) is an integrated approach to in-home parenting skill development. Intercept offers a variety of evidence-based and best practice interventions to meet the individualized needs of a family. Intercept staff work with families with children who are at risk of entry or re-entry into state custody (i.e., foster care) so as to prevent placement. Key features of the program include: intensity (meeting with families an average of three times weekly), low staff caseloads of 4 to 5 families, an active 24/7 on-call structure, and structured weekly supervision and consultation from a licensed clinician who is an expert in the model. The state of Tennessee, which offers Intercept in various counties around the state, commissioned the study. This report describes Intercept, the Center for State Child Welfare Data’s evaluation of the program, and the extent to which the findings demonstrate an impact on the likelihood of out-of-home placements for children.

What We Did

The study used a quasi-experimental design, relying exclusively on administrative data. Using Intent-to-Treat analysis, all children referred to Intercept by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) were included as part of the treatment group—regardless of the level of participation in services—if they met the following criteria: 1) they were referred between 01/01/2013 and 06/30/2018 and 2) the referral took place before their first placement in out-of-home care. The study used an exact matching method to define a comparison group, taking several variables and other confounds into account. Overall, the design adheres closely to evaluation requirements laid out by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse guidelines for quasi-experimental designs.

What We Found

  • For children referred to Intercept, their odds of placement were 53% lower than the matched comparison group.
  • The Intercept treatment effect was generalized over all person-periods, but more pronounced in the first 6 months after the first investigation/assessment.
  • The sustained effect is more pronounced during the first 12 months and also persists beyond 12 months.
  • We can reasonably conclude that not only does the Intercept program reduce the likelihood of placement, but the program has sustained effects beyond 1 year post-treatment.

What It Means

This evaluation indicates that the Intercept Program can reduce out-of-home placement for children who have been identified as at risk for placement in out-of-home care. The federal Family First Prevention Services Act provides funding to states for placement prevention services, provided the state child welfare agency invests in evidence-based interventions. A final determination will be made by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse, but this study places Intercept on the list of supported interventions states may consider when looking for programs eligible for transition funding under Family First.

Recommended Citation
Huhr, S., & Wulczyn, F. (2019). Do intensive in-home services prevent placement?: A case study of Youth Villages’ Intercept program. Chicago, IL: Center for State Child Welfare Data, Chapin Hall, University of Chicago.


Youth Villages Intercept Program - Report Youth Villages Intercept Program - Summary