Report 95017 Summary - April 1998

Early Intervention Program: Flaws Found in the 1997 Report on the Benefits of the Early Intervention Program

Results in Brief

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) and the California Youth Authority (CYA) operate the Early Intervention Program (program). This pilot program strives to minimize the CDC's and the CYA's financial losses by expediting the claims process and returning injured employees to work as soon as possible. In accordance with the Labor Code, the directors of the CDC, the CYA, and the Department of Mental Health (DMH), in cooperation with the president of the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), prepared a report on the program's accomplishments. A complete copy of this report is presented as the appendix of our report.

The Labor Code also directed that we review the report prepared by the departments. Our audit included an evaluation of the completeness and accuracy of the data compiled for the report, and the report's compliance with the Labor Code. In their report on the program, the CDC, the CYA, and the DMH concluded that few benefits accrue to the program and, although the departments diligently collected most of the information that the Legislature specified in the Labor Code, we noted errors and inconsistencies in how the study was performed. We also found flaws in the study's design that distorted the comparisons that can be made among the CDC, the CYA, and the DMH. For these reasons, we urge caution in interpreting the results of the attached early intervention report.

This is the second time we have reviewed a report the CDC and the CYA have prepared on the impact of early intervention. In July 1992, we cautioned readers to be wary of the results of a similar report.

These two attempts to measure the effectiveness of early intervention have therefore been inconclusive. In view of this, it would be imprudent for the Legislature or the CDC and the CYA to rely on these reports in deciding the future of the Early Intervention Program.

Agency Comments

The departments generally agreed with us that it would not be prudent for the Legislature or the CDC and the CYA to rely on the attached early intervention report in deciding the future of the Early Intervention Program at the CDC and the CYA.