Does Program Make a Difference? A Comparative Study of Delinquent and At-Risk Young Women in Community-Based and Residential Programs

Rosemary Sarri, University of Michigan

This paper analyzes the experiences, attitudes and behavior of delinquent and at-risk young women in three types of programs: community programs where they reside at home, community-based residential programs and closed residential facilities. The programs also vary in the degree to which they address gender-sensitive issues. The study provides information about several risk, need and protective factors, participants' use of social services, as well as a number of standardized assessment measures including: Adolescent Interpersonal Competency Instrument, the CES-D Depression Scale, Youth Coping Index, Elliott Self-reported Delinquency, Life Events Stress Scale, Peer Involvement and Relationships Index, school performance and Substance Abuse Scales. Findings from Waves 1 and 2 are presented in this paper. Preliminary results indicate that the majority of these young women are abused, experience a large number of crises, are depressed, have unstable housing and problematic family relationships, experience frequent poverty, have traditional female delinquency patterns, experience numerous problems in school, and display a lack of sufficient knowledge about sexual l behavior. Because of family rejection and lack of mental health programming many end up in residential programs that aggravate their situation. Despite this some have developed positive coping mechanisms. We are attempting to identify conditions under which this occurs. The results gained from this study are being used by a local advisory committee to plan for more effective gender-sensitive programs that meet the needs of this at-risk female population.

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Updated 05/20/2006