Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Examining the Costs and Benefits of Wrap-Around School-Based Services: A Pilot Study of City Connects

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 8:30 AM
Tuttle North (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

A. Brooks Bowden1, Clive R. Belfield2, Henry M Levin1, Robert Shand1, Anyi Wang1 and Melisa Morales1, (1)Columbia University, (2)City University of New York
Schools have historically and increasingly played an important role in providing services to meet students’ social and emotional, family, health, and academic needs. Coordinating these services in a way that is strategically aligned with a school’s academic mission and that efficiently addresses the needs of all students is often challenging and costly. This study is an initial investigation of Boston College’s City Connects program, which supports students and schools by evaluating the needs of all students in a school and connecting them to services that are largely provided by community partner organizations. Prior research has shown evidence of effectiveness of the program in terms of increased achievement and educational attainment relative to similar schools that have not implemented the program. These positive effects must be weighed against the program’s costs in a benefit-cost analysis to determine whether the program is a worthwhile social investment. This report shows that City Connects provides a whole-school wrap-around service at relatively low cost to the schools – schools themselves only bear about 10% of the core costs of the program. However, the methodological complexity of this work is entailed in the estimation of the total cost when considering the partnerships with community organizations. The results show that the total cost of six years of City Connects (the dosage under which effects were measured) is $4570 per student, which includes a portion of the costs of the community partner services received by the students in City Connects schools. Depending on what share of the community partner services are considered to be above and beyond the baseline level, the total cost estimate can range from $1,540 to $9,320 per student. Under the model that best fits with data on implementation, the benefit-cost ratio is 3.0 and the net benefits are $9,280 per student. This result implies that providing the program to a cohort of 100 students would cost society $457,000 but yield $1,385,000 in social benefits, for a net benefit of $928,000. Even under the most conservative assumptions regarding costs and benefits, the program’s benefits exceed its costs. Further research can investigate the relationship between the program, schools, and community partners and how services provided by partners compare in treatment versus comparison schools.

Full Paper: