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Research and Evaluation on School Safety: An Evaluation of State School Safety Centers. The History and Characteristics of State School Safety Centers

NCJ Number
Joseph M. McKenna; Sarah Russo; Hannah Sutherland; Ashley Boal; Anthony Petrosino
Date Published
November 2021
31 pages

Given the widespread use of State School Safety Centers (SSSCs), their potential role in improving school safety, and the lack of information currently available to inform the development of high-quality SSSCs, the goal of the current evaluation was to develop knowledge of the history, characteristics, structure, activities, and perceived impacts of SSSCs across the United States.



SSSCs have emerged as the primary entity at the state level for developing and maintaining an organized and effective effort to improve school safety by creating and managing funding and resources for improving school safety. Resources may include policy development, training, technical assistance, and guidance to local jurisdictions. The current 3-year evaluation used a descriptive design that relied on numerous evidence sources to reveal the features of SSSCs’ structure, policies, practices, and impact related to school safety. An online survey was developed and administered. Its four broad sections addressed 1) background information; 2) SSSC history; 3) characteristics of active SSSCs; and 4) characteristics of discontinued SSSCs. States with an SSSC were asked when the SSSC was established, the rationale for creating it, whether it serves the entire state, and whether it was still operating. Of the 28 respondents who reported their state had an operational SSSC at the time of the survey, about 71 percent reported that the SSSC was part of a larger state agency. Based on its findings, this report proposes “a state-level resource that is funded either through state appropriations or state/federal grant funds, or some combination of the two, that at a minimum serves the entire state as a central clearinghouse for school safety information and resources, but that also may provide technical assistance training, and/or develop resources to support local education agency school safety efforts.”