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The Science Behind SNAP®

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SNAP® Research

Our research goal is to improve clinical practice, advance knowledge and be accountable to our clients. To date, SNAP has been evaluated using the most stringent criteria for well established treatments (e.g., through use of random control/wait list assignments, use of reliable and standardized outcome measures and continuous monitoring to ensure treatment fidelity).

Our research and intervention achievements have been increasingly acknowledged by leading academics specializing in the prevention of child and adolescent delinquency.

Overall, our research has shown:

  • Once families begin SNAP services at CDI, attrition rates are extremely low compared to the industry norm and most families complete service.  
  • Significant improvements have been observed after treatment with maintenance of treatment gains at six, 12 and 18 months in terms of externalizing behaviours (e.g., aggression, delinquency), internalizing behaviours (e.g., anxiety, depression), and social competency (e.g., peer relations, participation in activities).
  • Treated children improve significantly more than children receiving an attention-only group or delayed treatment; effect sizes are large for boys (exceeding 1.1) and moderate for girls (0.51).
  • Parents experience less stress in their interactions with their children as well as increased confidence in managing their children’s behaviour.
  • Children report improved quality of interaction with parents, including less yelling and more limit setting.
  • Children report a less positive attitude towards antisocial behaviour, associate with fewer peers whom parents consider a “bad influence," and demonstrate more prosocial skills after treatment with teachers, peers and family members.
  • A closer look at program effects tells us that the amount of treatment received influences treatment effectiveness in terms of immediate decreases in delinquency and aggression, as well as longer term outcomes such as involvement in criminal activities.
  • Client profile and, in particular, childhood risk factors (e.g., antisocial attitudes, school functioning),as well as the severity of problems at intake are important to take into account as they have been shown to influence treatment outcomes.
  • Early sexual development in girls and evidence of abuse, neglect or trauma are associated with a number of other risk factors that contribute to poorer treatment outcomes.
  • Based upon convictions alone, the benefit-to-cost ratio for SNAP is estimated to be between $3.07 and $5.64 for every dollar spent on the program.  When this estimate is scaled up to include undetected offenses, the ratio soars to between $25.79 and $47.29.
  • A third-party evaluation of SNAP showed that the program outperformed other more intensive services in both the short term and long term, particularly for children with the most severe behavioural problems.
  • Prior to entering the program, SNAP Boys showed greater activation in the part of the brain typically associated with anxiety (as seen below). After only four to six months of being in the SNAP Boys program, the boys showed significant changes with greater activation in the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thought associated with following through on the fundamental steps of SNAP.


Image of brain indicating greater activation in the part of the brain typically associated with anxiety.


Image of brain showing significant changes with greater activation in the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thought associated with following through on the fundamental steps of SNAP

For more information about specific research studies, please see the SNAP Research Brief.

Research Partners

Our highly-skilled team of in-house researchers initiate and conduct research, in addition to collaborating with leading researchers, practitioners, policy experts and graduate students from Canada, the United States and Europe. Some of our research collaborators include:

  • Banyan Community Services
  • Cambridge University, UK
  • Department of Justice, Canada
  • Department of Justice, U.S.
  • Hospital for Sick Children
  • J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
  • Karolinska Institutet (Sweden)
  • Krembil Foundation
  • LaMarsh Research Centre, York University
  • National Crime Prevention Centre
  • Norsk senter for studier av problematferd org Innovativ praksis as (Norway)
  • Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention, U.S.
  • Offord Centre for Child Studies
  • Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services
  • Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
  • PREVNet
  • The Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Heath at CHEO
  • Simon Fraser University
  • T.R. Meighen Family Foundation
  • Trimbos Institute (The Netherlands)
  • University of Maastricht
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of New Orleans
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Toronto

SNAP® Information