Urban Institute
Research Associate II

What does it mean to "scale" in pay for success?

March 15, 2018 - 10:52am

In pay for success (PFS), we often speak of “scaling” a proven intervention. Government officials, investors, and philanthropies widely cite scaling as a key reason for investing in and supporting PFS projects. But what does scaling look like in practice? Usually, scaling is thought of as increasing the number of people served, but in this blog we think about  scaling the impact of a program, which goes beyond simply serving more people. With this new frame, there are four ways PFS can scale: expansion, replication, adaptation, and diffusion. With its different pathways to helping more people, scaling can bring evidence based practices to communities that can benefit from them.

Expansion

Under expansion, the traditional way to think about scaling, there is an already existing program or pilot that seeks to increase the number of people served. The program has shown to have a positive impact and the demand for the program within the community exceeds current capacity. Through a PFS contract, investors provide the capital for a provider to hire more staff, increase the number of centers delivering services, or train and increase the number of other providers in the community. A good example of a PFS project scaling in this manner is the Chicago PFS project, which implements  the Child-Parent Center model, a half- or full-day preschool program that aligns education and other services to reduce special education needs and improve school readiness. In operation since 1967, with evidence of positive outcomes through a longitudinal study, the Child-Parent Center model will now expand to help 2,618 4-year-old children using nearly $17 million in investor capital.

Replication

Replication is simply taking a program that worked in one jurisdiction and implementing it in another. The program should have a strong evidence base and the target population in the new jurisdiction should be similar to the population that was previously served. The PFS contract is used to import the model to the new community, either by the original service provider or by training new providers in the new community. For example, the Illinois Dually-Involved Youth PFS Initiative is implementing the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM). It was developed by Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform to address the unique needs of youth moving between child welfare and juvenile justice systems. CYPM has been used in over 100 counties in more than 20 states nationwide. In Illinois, the Conscience Community Network, LLC, a network of six service providers, will be implementing the program for about 800 youths.

Adaptation

Under adaptation, a program that has shown to work in a particular location and for a particular population is changed to serve either a slightly new population or operate in a new place. A clear example is the Rikers Island PFS project that delivered Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE), a model adapted from Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT). MRT was originally designed for adult prisoners, but ABLE was used to help adolescent prisoners. Moral Reconation Therapy enhances clients’ social skills, self-control, problem solving, and impulse management with the goal of reducing re-offending. Project designers felt it was well suited to Rikers for adolescents because it stressed open groups and self-pacing, which are critical in jail where individuals arrive and leave unpredictably. Depending on the new program’s divergence from the original program, there can be a large risk that the program doesn’t work. The Rikers Island program, for example, did not meet its recidivism reduction goals and was terminated early. 

Diffusion

Although similar to adaptation, diffusion occurs when a key principle in a program, rather than the entire program, is applied in a different context. An example of this process is the Housing First approach, which was pioneered first in New York through permanent supportive housing programs and which then spread throughout the country. Housing First is the idea that individuals are better served by prioritizing their access to housing rather than making treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health issues a prerequisite to getting housing. In PFS, programs using Housing First have been applied in a variety of contexts, from rapid re-housing programs, to reentry, to mental health programs. These programs differ in purpose, wraparound services, staff to client ratios, housing settings, and specific target populations, but see housing support as crucial to success.

Have a Pay for Success question? Ask our experts here!

As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Scholars are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research. Photo via Shutterstock.

Comments

Your profile picture

Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I
stumbleupon every day. It will always be helpful
to read through articles from other writers and use something from
their websites.

Feel free to visit my blog <a href="http://pichak.net/verification/index.php?n=39&url=goo.gl%2FW5mW4y">gia may loc nuoc gia dinh</a>

Your profile picture

Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I
stumbleupon every day. It will always be helpful
to read through articles from other writers and use something from
their websites.

Feel free to visit my blog <a href="http://pichak.net/verification/index.php?n=39&url=goo.gl%2FW5mW4y">gia may loc nuoc gia dinh</a>