Criminal Justice Reform Done Right
In turning its bail system around, New Jersey has shown a capacity for evidence-based policy innovation that's likely to serve as a national model.
Feather O'Connor Houstoun, who has held positions at every level of government, is a senior adviser to the Wyncote Foundation on public media and journalism and a former president of the William Penn Foundation. She was a member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission from December 2011 to October 2016.
Houstoun served as Pennsylvania's secretary of public welfare during Gov. Tom Ridge's administration, New Jersey state treasurer under Gov. Tom Kean, chief financial officer of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, and in a number of senior positions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Timely housing assistance is crucial, but it can be tricky to overcome institutional barriers.
The spread of an innovative program piloted in Philadelphia is the result of persistence, rigorous study and evaluation, along with efforts to avoid common pitfalls.
As efforts to evaluate housing programs illustrate, it's difficult to make precise comparisons. But it's worth the effort.
Experiments in the Seattle area that involve an array of organizations have ambitious goals.
Pay-for-success programs seem to hold promise as a way to find the up-front investments for programs that save money in the long run.
In the end, it's usually better to define what a service should be before deciding who should deliver it.
The story of Italy's effort to decentralize its governmental functions offers lessons for innovators everywhere.
The assertion that a program will save more money than it costs in the long term is a difficult one to demonstrate.
A journal launched by two Philadelphia social services entrepreneurs is going a long way toward spreading the word about what works and what doesn't.