clear   Appendix:   Promising Programs

ELECTION PROCESS. In an effort to learn about promising programs serving female delinquents or girls at risk of delinquency, Greene, Peters and Associates (GPA) pursued an ambitious selection process. They mailed nomination forms to more than 500 persons who have demonstrated an interest in juvenile justice issues. In addition, they met with representatives of the National Juvenile Justice Coalition and contacted organizations that serve adolescents across the country.

Nominations were received from 212 programs. After GPA requested information from each of them regarding program design and implementation, 87 programs responded. Of those, 14 were eliminated from consideration once GPA determined they did not meet minimum criteria for gender-specific programming. The remaining 73 programs were reviewed by GPA staff. Evaluation focused on the following areas:

General program criteria

  • Appropriate intake assessment

  • Use of intake assessment as basis for service/treatment plan or case management

  • Family intervention/involvement

  • Preparation for transition/reentry

  • Cultural competency

  • Follow-ups with agencies to which referrals are made to ensure accountability

  • Formal, institutional interagency linkages

  • Gender-specific program criteria

  • Relevant to female development

  • Issues of gender-specific programming are implicit in program goals, objectives, and/or mission

  • Provide empowerment strategies (i.e., skill training, academic development, career/vocational training)

  • Assessment and treatment of sexual abuse and related issues

  • Ongoing gender-specific victimization training

After this review, 25 programs were identified as potential finalists. Independent consultants also reviewed some of top programs using the same criteria. This two-tiered review process identified 16 programs as having promising, gender-specific components for serving adolescent female populations. From these 16 finalists, GPA requested additional information, such as program curriculum, staffing patterns, staff training, annual reports, and program goals. During site visits, GPA interviewed program staff, participants and, when available, girls' parents.

Girls' observations

The majority of girls interviewed believed that their participation in a particular program had a positive, significant effect on their lives. Some girls said the program was "exactly what they needed" during a critical period in life.

Girls who participated in the program on a voluntary basis (typically, prevention and early-treatment programs) often expressed an appreciation for the opportunity to be together with girls who were like themselves. They tended to value group activities and individual attention from staff.

Not surprisingly, girls who had been involuntarily placed in programs (intervention and residential care) reacted differently. Many at first responded negatively to both the facility and the staff. They may have reacted with fear and anger to their loss of freedom. However, once they felt safe and comfortable with their new surroundings, and realized the program existed to help them, many girls changed their attitudes and behaviors.

Many of the girls were insightful about themselves and the value of gender-specific programs. They cited their participation in these programs as one of the main reasons they were not in more serious trouble, or even dead. They also understood that their personal growth would continue after they left a program. Because of their involvement with a gender-specific program, they understood that they now had a chance to reach their highest potential.

Of the 16 programs listed in this appendix, the first seven directly address the needs of the female juvenile offender population. The remaining nine, described in less detail, tend to be community-based programs aimed at keeping girls out of trouble. At a minimum, each program offers at least one promising component for effective gender-specific programming for adolescent females. Together, these 16 promising programs are increasing girls' options in a variety of settings. (Click here to see the elements and features that characterize each program.)

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Guiding Principles for Promising
Female Programming
October 1998