Challenging Placement Outcomes for 'Difficult-to-Place' Youth: Preliminary Results From a Placement Readiness Evaluation Program

Justin Galt, University of California - Riverside
Deborah Plechner, University of California - Riverside

ABSTRACT
Residential placement for adjudicated juvenile delinquents has become commonplace. This paper will present results from the evaluation of a Challenge Grant program established in a Southern California county to better prepare youth for placement. This program focuses on "difficult-to-place" juveniles who are identified using a list of criteria developed by probation officials and the Presley Center evaluation team. Once the juveniles are determined to be difficult-to-place, they are randomly selected into the control or treatment group; the latter receives two basic interventions. The first intervention involves transferring the minor from the larger Juvenile Hall setting into a small unit where they receive more staff guidance, more counseling, and a climiate more similar to most residential placements. The juveniles remain there for up to l-1/2 months just prior to being placed. The other intervention consists of a "family outreach team" that interfaces with the juveniles' families and offers service referrals as well as providing an informational link between probation, placement, and the minor and his or her family. Hypothesized outcomes include decreased time in placement, increased placement completion rates, and lower recidivism among the treatment group. Offender profiles, key aspects of program implementation, and statistical outcome data will be presented.

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Updated 05/20/2006