Since the increasing proportion of girls in the juvenile justice system has prompted courts to develop gender-responsive services, this study examined data from a mid-sized county juvenile court to determine the effects of a group home intervention for girls compared to regular probation for girls.
The study examined the effectiveness of two group homes for adjudicated females, with attention to whether there were differences in reoffending for girls who received treatment in the group homes compared with those who received standard probation services. Within the court setting, it was not feasible to conduct an evaluation in which girls were randomly assigned to a treatment condition (group home) or a control group (standard probation services). A quasi-experimental design used propensity score matching to control for potential selection artifacts. The study determined whether when matched based on propensity scores there were differences in 1-year and 2-year recidivism rates between girls who received group home treatment and those who received standard probation services. The study was conducted in a mid-sized county juvenile court in the Midwest, using archival data collected between 2005 and 2012. Of the two group homes involved in this study, one home served moderate-risk girls, and the other served girls with higher risk levels. Girls on formal probation were assigned to a juvenile court officer for supervision and treatment recommendations. The study involved 172 girls who received group home treatment and 814 girls on regular probation. Recidivism was defined as any new petitioned offense to court 24 months following the initial assessment. Probation violations or technical violations were not counted as re-offenses. The study found that girls who received group home treatment were significantly less likely to reoffend in the 2-year follow-up. Policy and practice implications for gender-responsive services are discussed, along with future research directions. 4 tables, 1 figure, and 36 references