Adolescent Girls in Trouble: Community-Based Foster Care as an Alternative Placement Option

Patricia Chamberlain, Oregon Social Learning Center
Leslie D. Leve, Oregon Social Learning Center
John B. Reid, Oregon Social Learning Center
Peter G. Sprengelmeyer, Oregon Social Learning Center

Adolescent girls are one of the fastest-growing segments in juvenile justice, with arrests accounting for 27% of total arrests during 1999. The majority of females in juvenile justice in 1997 were under age 16, and cases involving girls under 18 increased by 83% between 1989 and 1998, compared to a 35% increase for boys. Co-occurring mental health problems and substance use are frequent with studies reporting up to 75% of the girls in detention having psychiatric disorders, and up to 87% being in need of substance abuse treatment. Long-term negative outcomes for girls appear to be more diverse than for boys including a variety of adverse health outcomes. Despite girls' increasing delinquency and associated health and mental health problems, services for girls are underdeveloped. In this presentation, we will describe an experimental intervention that compared the efficacy of two placement alternatives for girls with multiple previous criminal referrals (i.e.>10) ordered into out-of home placement. Girls were randomly assigned to Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) or to Group Care (GC) and assessed at regular intervals through 1-year follow up. Data will be presented on outcomes and on treatment variables hyupothesized to predict outcomes (i.e., mediators). Clinical considerations will be discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006