2018 #Catalyst4Change Finalist
Maricopa County Adult Probation Department
When you meet Arlyn Harris, it doesn’t take long to learn that she is passionate about what she does. She’s quick to tell you she feels fortunate that her work as an Adult Probation Officer Supervisor at Maricopa County Adult Probation Department (MCAPD) gives her the opportunity to change lives. When you see her in action, you will understand that drives everything she does.
In its ongoing implementation of evidence-based practices, the MCAPD has incorporated programs and tools to assess risk, address criminogenic needs and target interventions. The MCAPD has implemented the evidence-based Thinking for a Change (T4C) Program, a cognitive behavioral intervention from the National Institute of Corrections, which teaches participants awareness of themselves and others and provides tools for self-change.
Ms. Harris was one of the first staff members to receive training as a T4C facilitator and to start delivering the program in 2009. Because of her belief in and passion for the program, she was a natural choice to be selected as the T4C Program Coordinator. But that’s only part of the story…
At the onset of the T4C program, the MCAPD knew that one of their largest challenges was the limited capacity to deliver the program to all of the individuals the agency knew could benefit from it. Using a validated risk/needs assessment tool, in 2013 37-percent of the probation population were assessed as medium-high and high risk. Today that has increased to 50-percent.
With the goal of expanding the Department’s T4C implementation, in 2014 Ms. Harris took on the role of grant manager for their BJA Smart Supervision Grant. In addition to expanding T4C program capacity internally, she worked diligently to develop a probation-community provider partnership model, in which providers deliver T4C and use Medicaid coverage for their costs. This was a true game-changer. MCAPD partnered with multiple providers, who held T4C groups at the providers’ venues. The MCAPD co-facilitated the programming.
Ms. Harris has been able to anticipate and work through many implementation challenges. Key accomplishments during her tenure include:
- Streamlined referral and enrollment processes.
- Decrease in the number of days from client referral to T4C group entry.
- Coordination of program space, staffing and scheduling of groups across an increased number of locations.
- Training of new group facilitators.
- Observations of groups and provision of booster trainings to help ensure program fidelity.
- Extensive marketing and training with probation staff that generated buy-in and referrals.
- Development with community treatment providers of a collaborative model of implementing T4C that had a sustainable funding source.
An independent evaluation of the grant project found:
- MCAPD provided 128 groups, with over 2,600 probationers referred and accepted into the program, far exceeding its target to provide 65 T4C groups and serve at least 864 medium-high and high risk probationers.
- Of those probationers who entered a group, half graduated from T4C.
- Over half (53.5%) of a comparison group of medium-high and high risk probationers who were not referred to T4C experienced a Petition to Revoke (PTR) for any reason (technical violations or new crimes). Only 15% of those who completed T4C had a PTR.
- Of the comparison group, 25.6% had been revoked to incarceration. For those who completed T4C, that rate dropped substantially to only 2.7%.
Ms. Harris’ passion and clear understanding of the program, combined with her strong organizational skills, understanding of evidence-based practices, and the respect of her peers, has helped her grow the program to the powerhouse it is today. The community provider partnerships, along with the positive results of the program, have allowed the program to thrive, even though the grant has ended.