The Gender-Responsive Intervention for Female Juvenile Offenders was a program for adjudicated girls in the juvenile justice system. The goal was to provide gender-responsive treatment services to high-risk girls in a group home setting with the aim of reducing the likelihood of re-offending. The program emphasizes comprehensiveness, safety, empowerment, and family and relationship support all in the context of community-based services.
The intervention was implemented in two group homes, both of which were created based on the same underlying goals (i.e., to provide girls with skills, resources, and an increased capacity for healthy relationships while reducing their risk of juvenile and criminal justice system involvement), but which served girls with different levels of risk and within different age ranges. The first group home accommodated girls, aged 12 to 17, who were classified as moderate risk. The intervention was designed to reduce recidivism, improve school performance, strengthen communication skills, develop individual self-worth, and build positive relationships and support systems among girls who were involved in the delinquency or truancy divisions of juvenile court. In the second group home, which served high-risk females aged 13 to 18, girls were provided with intensive treatment services and programming to reduce recidivism and the duration of stay in the residential treatment center. In addition, they received services that reinforced community stability, family unification, and access to support systems.
Each group home accommodated up to six girls at a time, and both facilities used the same assessments and curricula. The average program duration was 5 to 6 months, during which approximately 100 to 200 hours of treatment services were provided, depending on individual needs. All girls had an assigned juvenile court officer (JCO), who collaborated with the group home staff regarding case management and supervision.
At both group homes, personalized treatment plans were created using assessment tools. In addition, cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT), the Thinking for a Change (T4C) behavior curriculum, and Girls Moving On (GMO) gender-responsive programming were also implemented.
CBT was applied in group, individual, and family settings to address personality characteristics such as antisocial cognitions, teaching non-criminal and alternative behaviors, building individuals’ skills (e.g., problem solving, anger management, communication, self-efficacy, and means of coping), building positive relationships with peers and family members, enhancing school performance, avoiding negative social situations to reduce conflict, and increasing prosocial leisure activities.
An aftercare service group, as well activities such as scrapbooking, substance-use education, tutoring, and community service projects, were also implemented. The treatment models were based on girls’ criminogenic needs, family demands, substance use, and individual needs.
Service referrals were made by a staffing team composed of the deputy court administrator for juvenile and family services, the court psychologist and clinical social worker, the juvenile court officer or officers assigned to the case, managers of juvenile programs and services, and program staff from the girls’ group homes.
Gender-responsive treatment is based on 1) feminist pathways theory, which posits that many girls become involved in the justice system due to trauma or a history of victimization; and 2) relational/cultural theory, which acknowledges the need to address the importance of relationships in the lives of women and girls within the provision of services (Anderson 2015). Critical components of gender-responsive programming include comprehensiveness, safety, empowerment, and family and relationship (peer and romantic) support in the context of community-based services. Girls’ group homes often offer services that address the histories and life experiences of young females, which are frequently connected to trauma, mental health, substance abuse, criminal behavior, and economic troubles (Anderson et al. 2016).
Anderson and colleagues (2016) used a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact on recidivism of a gender-responsive intervention for females in two group homes in the Midwest. Of the total sample of 986 youths, 172 received treatment at one of two group homes, and 814 received standard probation services. Participants were drawn from a mid-sized county juvenile court in the Midwest using archival data from 2005 to 2012. As the juvenile court is composed of multiple divisions, girls involved in any division (but typically formal probation or truancy court) could receive an out-of-home placement in a girls’ group home. Admission to a group home was determined by initial risk-assessment scores and other contextual factors considered by the staffing team. All youths were administered a validated risk-assessment instrument (Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory [YLS/CMI]).
Binary logistic regression was used on 11 variables (i.e., age, race/ethnicity, delinquency versus truancy court, and the eight YLS/CMI subscale scores) to create propensity scores. The nearest neighbor matching procedure was used to identify girls with similar risk and demographic profiles. From this, a total of 169 girls in the treatment group were matched with 169 girls in the comparison group. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups on any of the variables used in the matching procedure.
The treatment group had an average age of 14.17 years, were 64.5 percent nonwhite, and 50.3 percent were from the delinquency (versus truancy) court. The comparison group of girls had an average age of 14.16 years, were 59.2 percent nonwhite, and 50.3 percent were from the delinquency (versus truancy) court.
Recidivism was defined as any new petitioned offense to court 24 months following the YLS/CMI assessment for the comparison group, and following release from the program for the treatment group. Chi-square tests were used to compare the girls who received the intervention with their matched pairs, who received probation services as usual. No subgroup analyses were conducted.
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Anderson, Valerie R., Brinn M. Walerych, Nordia A. Campbell, Ashlee R. Barnes, William S. Davidson, Christina A. Campbell, Eyitayo Onifade, and Jodi L. Petersen. 2016. "Gender-Responsive Intervention for Female Juvenile Offenders: A Quasi-Experimental Outcome Evaluation." Feminist Criminology
, online first, November 14, 2016.