Assessing the impact of implementing interactive psychoeducational group curriculum in a juvenile detention setting

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Assessing the impact of implementing interactive psychoeducational group curriculum in a juvenile detention setting
Dawson-Giles, Britini A. ( author )
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University of Colorado Denver
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A significant number of youth are confined to Colorado detention centers every year. Many of these young people lack effective coping and life skills needed for healthy growth and development. While there is some evidence of the effectiveness of the use of psychosocial interventions in juvenile justice populations, little research exists specifically focused on youth who are being detained but are not committed to the juvenile justice system. This Capstone Project is an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of an Interactive Psychoeducational Group Curriculum (IPGC) designed specifically for youth in detention facilities. This evaluation was conducted within the Gilliam Youth Services Center in Denver, Colorado. The intervention is based on components of three psychosocial interventions that have demonstrated success with the juvenile justice population. Lessons designed to be gender neutral, non-sequential, and interactive were compiled from free, previously published intervention approaches. The IPGC focuses on lessons in five areas: Conflict Resolution, Emotional Intelligence, Coping with Stress, Taking Perspective, and Communication. To measure whether the IPGC had a positive effect, this study compared the number of major rule violations (MRV) within the facility during the six months the curriculum was implemented with the same months the previous year. Qualitative information was also gathered from the youth and staff via direct interaction on the engagement, effectiveness, and usefulness of the curriculum. Analyses indicate that there were no significant differences in the number of MVR pre- and post-intervention. However, qualitative results suggest some positive impact of the intervention.<
Thesis (Psy.D.))--University of Colorado Denver, 2017.
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ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF IMPLEMENTING INTERACTIVE PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL GROUP CURRICULUM IN A JUVENILE DETENTION SETTING by BRITNI A. DAWSON GILES B.A., Metropolitan State University of Denver, 2005 M.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2011 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Psychology School Psychology Program 2018




iii This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Britni Dawson Giles has been approved for the School Psychology Program granting the degree B y Franci Crepea u H obson Chair Bryn Har ris Col ette Hohnbaum Date: May 12, 2018


iv Dawson Giles, Britni A. ( P sy D, School Psychology ) Assessing the Impact of Implementing Interactive Psychoeducational Group Curriculum in a Juvenile Detention Setting Thesis directed by Associate Professor Franci Crepeau Hobson A BSTRACT A significant number of youth are confined to Colorado detention centers every year. Many of these young people lack effective cop ing and life skills needed for healthy growth and development. While there is some evidence of the effectiveness of the use of psychosocial interventions in juvenile justice populations, little research exists specifically focused on youth who are being detained but are not committed to the juvenile justice system. T his Capstone Project is an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of an Interactive Psychoeducational Group Curriculum (IPGC) designed specifically for youth in detention fa cilities This evaluation was conducted within the Gilliam Youth Services Center in Denver, Colorado. The intervention is b ased on components of three psychosocial interventions that have demonstrated success with the juvenile justice population. Lessons designed to be gender neutral, non sequential, and interactive were compiled from free previously published intervention approaches The IPGC focuses on l essons in five areas: Conflict Resolution, Emotional Intelligence, Coping with Stress, Taking Perspective, and Communication. To measure whether the IPGC ha d a positive effect, this study compared the number of major rule violations (MRV) within the facility during the six months the curriculum was implemented with the same months the previous year. Q ualitative information was also gathered from the youth and staff via direct interaction on the engagement, effectiveness, and usefulness of the curriculum. Analyses ind icate that there were no significant


v differences in the number of MVR pre and post intervention. However, qualitative results suggest some positive impact of the intervention. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication Approved: Franci Crepeau Hobson


vi TABLE OF CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND 1 II. ...5 .. ..6 .. ..7 Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders in Detained Youth 8 Need for Psychoeducational Intervention 0 III. ..1 2 ...1 2 ..1 2 ..1 3 Interactive Psychoeducational Group Curriculum ... 13 4 15 IV. 16 V. .. 18 .. .... 18 Implications and Future Di rections... .. 1 4


1 C HAPTER I INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND M any youths within the j uvenile justice system lack positive coping mechanisms and skills to thrive in their environments, which may not be the most conducive to healthy development (Ford, Kerig, Desai, & Feierman, 2016) Thus, youth resort to delinqu ent behaviors such as status offenses like trua ncy or running away, as well as theft, i ncluding those of motor vehicles, burglary, robbery assault, mena cing, substance abuse, and self harm (Ford et al., 2016) The aim of this project i s to address the lac k of social and emotional skills development provided within Juvenile Detention facilities (Desai, et al., 2006; Ford et al. 2016 ), and determine whether psychoeducational skills groups are effective in reducing some of the aggressive behaviors termed Major Rule Violations (MVRs) in the facility. I n the state of Colorado, t he Divisi on of Youth Corrections (DYC), is under the Office of Children, Youth, and Families within the Department of Human Services. Section 19 2 402 and 19 2 403 of the Colorado Rev ised Statutes, 2016 designates DYC as the entity responsible for operating juvenile detention and for providing care and supervision of youth committed by the District Court to the custody of the Colorado Department of Human Services. The Division of Yout h Corrections provides a continuum of residential and non residential services and mandated functions that encompasses juvenile detention, commitment and parole (Colorado Department of Human Services, CDHS, 2016) According to their website, t he mission statement provides effective supervision, promotes accountability to victims and communities, and helps youth lead constructive lives t (CDHS 2016)


2 The Division operates ten secure facilities that serve youth between the ages of 10 and 21 who are pre adjudicated or committe d (CDHS, 2016) These facilities are dispersed throughout the four judicial districts (regions) of Colorado, including: Central, Northeastern, Southern, and Western. In compliance with both federal and Colorado state regulations, DYC engages in a significant amount of data collection to monitor programs, policies, and youth within the facilities. This includes a compilation of aggregate data on the number of Major Rule V iolations that occur within the facility; these may be specific to the youth, the unit or pod, and the facility. Need for Change By 2007, the fastest growing segmen t of the offender population was women and girls (Roe Sepowitz, Pate, Bedard, & Greenwald, 2009) Despite the increase in female offenders, there remains a disproportionate number of males to females in the juvenile justice system and an even more dispropo rtionate num ber of African American and Hispanic youth to Caucasian youth in juvenile detention facilities (Ford et al., 2016 Despite ethnicity, m any of the youth in t he juvenile justice system have been exposed to some type of violence or traumatic experience and demonstrate maladaptive coping behaviors such as substance abuse, suicidal behaviors, self harm, and sexualized behaviors (Ford & Hawke, 2012) There is a significant number of youth under the age of 18 in the juvenile justice system in the state of Colorado (Puzzanchera, Sladky, & Kang, 2015) and consequently, the services provided in that setting can impact many of the state The Colorado Department of Public Safety describes the services provided to youth on their website as, Screening and A ssessment for: Detention recommendations, Risks and needs, Substance abuse, Mental Health, Crisis response coordination, Intervention and treatment referrals, and Supervision and case management (City a nd County of Denver, 2016, ) Since the mid


3 been increasing pressure to reform the juvenile justice syste m. This has been evident in the form of legal pressure to provide mental health services to detainees and implement programs in detention facilities (Desai et al. 2006) This reform is occurring at a slow pace in Colorado ; there is no program consistently implemented in detention facilities and juveniles detained in Colorado do not receive any form of treatment or therapy while being held. This likely occurs due to the numerous limitations of the detention setting, the primary one being time. Juveniles who are detained are awaiting court or placement and thus the expectation is that they will be in the facility less than two weeks; however, as the researcher observed, the reality is that many youths remain in detention faci lities for longer than two weeks The time youth spend in detention facili ties has multiple consequences to the them the ir family, and the community which are evident in relation to financial hardships, psychological and physical well being, and resilience. The monetary cost of housing youth in detention centers is significant; yet allowing them to remain in the community may be costlier (Petteruti, Velzque, & Walsh, 2009) In addition to the monetary cost, there is also a cost to society and there is a cos t to the child who is not in school. Evidence is growing that there are cost effective policies and programs that include prevention and intervention for youth in the co mmunity. These have a positive public safety benefit and improve outcomes for children at risk for being arrested or sent to detention, as well as a benefit to communities and taxpayers (Petteruti et al., 2009). However, when a community program is not an option, then the time spent in detention facilities should be used to address educational and social skills gaps that likely exist because of truancy, learning disability, mental health challenges, or environment (Ford et al. 2016; Willis, 2011) Education should include psychoeducational and social skills instruction delivered wit h a


4 trauma informed pedagogical approach that is embraced by all facility staff if some impact on delinquent behavior is to be achieved If psychoeducational and mental health services are not provided during detainment it is unlikely that behavioral refo rm will occur; it is an opportunity lost and time wasted (Willis, 2011; CDHS, 2016) T he purpose of this project was to determine if the implementation of an Interactive Psychoeducational Group Curriculum intervention w ould be associated with changes in de linquent behavior. Specifically, the aim was to determine if the intervention would result in a decrease in the number of MRVs within GYSC


5 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW Purpose of Detention Facilities The practice of having juvenile specific judicial systems and trials began in the late shifted and society began to understand that adolescents were devel opmentally different from adults (Butts, 2002) During this time, criminal court procedures began to focus on guiding youth through intervention to maturity. This was based on the idea that not meeting the emotional/psychological, physical, or academic needs of youth can result in externalizing, disruptive, and even dangerous behaviors that require intervention and supports, and lead to involvement in the juvenile justice system (Huskey & Tomczak, 2013; Stahlberg & Anckarsater, 2010; Amendola & Oliver, 2013; Willis, 2011) In the 100 + years since the establishment of the juvenile justice system, social attitudes hifted from a delinquency treatment oriented one to a more punitive one, focusing on harsher sanctions fo r crimes (Desai et al., 2006) There is a prioritization of incarceration or punishme nt over education and learning by the public. This has be en substantiated by studies that have shown that isolating youth in facilities is minimally effective in supporting the youth to make these changes ; however, it is one option to making the community safer (Desai, et al., 2006) Colorado Senate Bill 94 (SB94) was passed to enhance the effectiveness of the juvenile community ( S. 91 94, 1991). SB94 seeks to ensure that all community placements and resources are exhausted prior to placing a youth in a detention facility, with consideration for both youth and community safety due to the recent research on the impacts of social isolation and confinement on


6 devel oping youth. As bluntly stated by one youth, t he worst punishment for a you ng man is time (Willis 2011) While j uvenile d elinquency cases are opened to address violations of Colorado State Statutes involving youth, Petteruti et al (2009) report several studies which h ave shown that youth who are incarcerated are more likely to recidivate than youth who are supervised in a community based setting or who are not detained at all This clearly indicates a need for change in what youth experience in detention facilities. Regulations Some of the changes that have been made in juvenile detention facilities occurred because of litigation in response to poor facility conditions; however recent judgement s and settlements have included a mental health service prov ision component in addition to mandates a bout facility conditions. Case l aw supports the notion that an acute mental health need left untreated constitutes deliberate indifference and could be seen as neglect by the facility (Desai, et al., 2006) Currently, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC), has published standards for the minimum of care for health and mental health needs of detained youth; however, facilities are not required to be accredited by the NCCHC and may not m eet the standards (Desai, et al., 2006) The standards are written as a positi on paper from the NCCHC and do c ite case law. Ther e are seven standards including quick screening, development of treatment plans by mental health p rofessionals, maintaining current medication regiments, treatment of acute psychiatric symptoms in facility by qualified staff or at hospital, administration of psychotropic medications in accordance with professional standards, appropriate suicide prevent ion measures, and provision of referral to community resources for mental health care (Desai, et al., 2006)


7 Still the new requirement for mental health services provides only minimal levels of care. This includes a mental hea lth screener, ( typically the Massachusett s Youth Screening Instrument 2 ( MAYSI 2 ; Grisso & Barnum, 2001 ) which assesses substance use, mood, somatic complaints, suicidal thinking, thought disturbances, and trauma. This is followed by an extended evaluation if warranted based on MAYSI 2 results, and ongoing suicide risk assessment and prevention (Desai, et al., 2006) The implementation of these services is greatly needed, but it does not address the issues that lead the youth to commit an offense or any skill deficits that may exist. Trauma Results of s everal studies vary i n terms of the incidence of traumatic experiences among youth within the juvenile justice system, with rates rang ing between 70 % and 80% ( Ford et al., 2016). Th e experience of trauma during childhood an d adolescence is often considered a strong predictor or risk factor for aggressive and violent behavior later (Sevecke, Franke, Kosson, & Krischer, 2016) These aggressive or violent behaviors are the externalizing behaviors that can be observed as a result of trauma. However, some youth may manifest internalizing symptoms of trauma including poor self esteem, anxiety, and depression. As a result, many youths of ten self medicate with illegal drugs or alcohol (Shelton, Kesten, Zhang, & Trestman, 2011) (Perry, 2007) explains that when youth experience trauma, especially in early childhood, brain development is altered. The brain becomes overactive in areas such as the amygdala which processes figh t or flight responses as well as, emotion and memory. Thus, certain are as of the brain become overdeveloped, while others are underdeveloped due to lack of stimuli and exposure to a safe environment (Amendola & Oliver, 2011; Huskey & Tomczak, 2013)


8 These traumatic experiences increase the risk for continuing emotional, deve lopmental, academic, and behavioral problems (Ford et al., 2016). As such, youth who have experienced childhood trauma and are within the juvenile justice system often display behavioral challenges and have a limited ability to regulate emotion and behavi or. Unless they receive appropriate treatment, behavior problems are likely to persist and may result in the youth receiving additional criminal charges against them in the future (Amendola & Oliver, 2013) Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders in Detained Youth In addition, these traumatic experiences often lead to serious long term mental health issues for youth, which increases the risk for involvement in crime, and the justice system (Ford et al., 2016 ). Almost half of youth studied in detention facilities have been found to meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder (Stahlberg & Anckarsater, 2010) Some of the most common diagnoses include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or some other form of trauma related disorder, ADHD, d epression, and a nxiety (Stahlberg & Anckarsater, 2010) These mental health challenges are in addition to the most common diagnoses in the juvenile justice system of Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD), which are characteristically different than other DSM disorders (Stahlberg & Anckarsater, 2010) Skill Deficits Many youths in detention facilities also have an identified learning disability As a result, these young people often drop out of school and seek out other means to meet their needs. In addition, research suggests that youth lack the social skills necessary to problem solve, reduce stress, empathize wi th others, commu nicate and advocate effectively (Ford et al., 2016). L earning how to understa nd and manage stress reactions can help youth to think and act with greater self control and responsibility rather than with aggression, impulsivity, defiance, or


9 avoidance that characterize trauma (Ford & Hawke 2012) Some neuroplasticity (Amendola & Oliver, 2013) Evidenced Based Interventions There is limited research on evidenced based interventions that are effective within a Juvenile Detention setting. This is due in part to the protected nature of the population of detained youth, as well as, the challenges i n monitoring effectiveness with the frequent turn over of youth within the detention setting. The interventions that have demonstrated some effectiveness with this population of youth were implemented in a setting where youth had been adjudicated, as oppos ed to those in detainment and awaiting adjudication or placement by the state. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Trauma and Grief Components Therapy for Adolescents (TGCTA), and Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET) are some of the interventions that have showed some success in the juvenile justice system (Ford et al., 2016). The CPT intervention model has demonstrated efficacy in randomized clinical trials in youth with traumatic backgrounds; similar to th at of youth s found in the juvenile justice system and GYSC (Ford et al., 2016) The basis of CPT is teaching clients cognitive restructuring skills that help them to examine and rework beliefs about issues such as their self/identity, relationships, and their future (Ford e t al., 2016). This is done by addressing emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness skills through narrative writing to be shared with a therapist. TARGET i s an intervention designed for traumatized youth in the juvenile justice setting. However it was designed more for committed youth settings, rather tha n youth in detainment settings, because the lessons are sequential and gender specific, with a different curriculum for


10 males and females (Ford et al., 2016) I n randomized clinical trials with justice involved females with dual diagnoses, the TARGET model was found to reduc e PTSD symptoms and depression, and improv e emotion regulation (Ford et al., 2016) In addition TAR GE T has been found effective in reducin g violent behavioral incidents, coercive restraints, and PTSD and d epression symptoms in juvenile detention facilities for committed youth (Ford et al., 2016). TGCTA is a four knowledge and ski lls to enhance posttraumatic emotional, cognitive, and behavioral regulation, and to improve social skills. This model involves a lot of group sharing of post traumatic experiences, and developing a therapeutic relationship among the group and the therapis t. Research has shown that TGCTA is associated with reduced symptoms of PTSD, depression, and maladaptive grief reactions and improved behavior in a range of populations, including urban, gang involved youth (Ford et al. 2016 ) Need for Psychoeducational Intervention Clearly there is a need for intervention for juveniles in detention facilities. In the last 20 years, research has begun to look at the most appropriate and effective interventions for youth specifically within the juvenile justice system. Several studies have in dicated that between 70 % and 80% of youth in the juvenile justice system have witnessed or experienced violence or traumatic events (Ford et al., 2016). In addition, the prevalence of mental health disorders is also significant among youth offenders, as is the incidence of parental mental illness, physical and verbal abuse, sexual abuse, gang involvement, parental gang involvement, learning disabilities, and substance abuse (Ford et al., 2016). Many youths run away from abusive homes or placement s and are t hen placed into the Department of Human Services to await another


11 transport narcotics and youth being kidnapped for sex trafficking at GYSC ( GYSC Staff personal co mmunication, 2/10/16 This is evidence indicating that the needs of detained youth go beyond suicide prevention and unknown acute psychiatric health concerns. Additionally, youth who are detained are in the facility for a limited amount of time. This signi ficantly impacts the type of services that can be provided in a short amount of time, the maintenance of medication regiments, and family involvement. As noted above, there are some intervention models that have been researched and show some evidenced bas ed success with social emotional skill development in youth juvenile justice settings. However, these typically utilize a sequential lesson format that builds lessons upon previous lessons While t his has been an effective approach for youth in committed s ettings (Ford et al., 2016) where they remain in one location for the duration of their sentence it is not as practical in a detention setting such as GYSC, as not all youth would receive lessons at the same time due to varying admission dates and would fall behind in previous lessons Further, research on these interventions has indicated the curricul a nee d to be gender specific (Ford et al., 2016). While this may be feasible in some settings, again, it is not feasible at GYSC as some youth in the facilities identify as transgender and are placed on the female or male pods/units, ence The individual can change their preference at each admission, or during their detainment.


12 CHAPTER III METHODS Location This program evaluation was conducted within the Gilliam Youth Services Center (GYSC) in Denver, Colorado. GYSC houses detained youth awaiting placement or sentencing after receiving criminal charges. GYSC is comprised 6 pods/units where the youth reside when not in the school, the cafeteria, outdoor recreation, or meeting rooms; typ ically, during the after school and overnight hours. Groups were conducted on the pods after school and before dinner. There are five classroom spaces for subjects including English/Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies, and Computers. The academic classes are taught in a traditional format, meaning that students are given whole group instruction and then are asked to demonstrate knowledge through some form of written assignment. Youth are awakened between 5:00 a m and 6:00 a m to engage i n morning hygiene routines and are expected to be in the classrooms around 7:00 a m. Youth remain in the classroom setting, except for a lunch period until 2:30 p m. Participants Youth in the facility range in age from 10 17 years. There are typically fiv e male pods and one female pod in GYSC ; however, due to safety circumstances pods can be rearranged temporarily to allow for two female pods and four male pods. There are between one and fifteen youth in each pod depending on the number of rooms, youth ne eds, and admission/release rates. The female pod (Pod F) and one high risk male pod (Pod M) participated in the IPGC intervention, while the remaining pods received standard programming with DYC staff. Because of the rate of admissions and releases, the tr ansfer of youth between pods regularly, and to


13 protect youth privacy, the total number of participants was not tracked as it would have had to be done by tracking individuals Intervention The IPGC focuses on developing skills with l essons in five areas: C onflict Resolution, Emotional Intelligence, Coping with Stress, Taking Perspective, and Communication. I n each area, 3 4 lessons were designed, for a total of 18 lessons. Lessons were comprised from a variety of free sources that are aligned with researched based interventions and adapted to incorporate skill development or pr actice and verbal processing. Group lessons were designed to range from 20 40 minutes depending on youth engagement and abilities, and to be delivered to youth by any staff me mber. However, to ensure consistency for the purposes of this program evaluation, all group lessons were administered by the researcher. Attention was paid to make the intervention gender neutral, non sequential, and interactive using lessons from previous ly published ideas, while incorporating social learning theory and experiential learning into a detention setting with this specific population of youth. Interactive Psychoeducational Group Curriculum An extensive search for pre existing social skills programing for students with social skills deficits demonstrating juvenile delinquent behaviors was conducted ; however, no established curriculum developed for this specific population in this type of setting was found There ar e established programs and curricula for students who have been adjudicated and sentenced to time in a facility; however, these do not meet the needs in the detention only setting. D rawing from the evidence based programs and resources that ha ve demonstrat ed effective ness within the juvenile justice setting, a curriculum tailored to the individual needs of youth in this setting was developed The curricula that informed the intervention included CPT, TGCTA, and


14 TARGET T hese interventions have in common a f ocus on skill s development as a means to improve behavior and social and emotional functioning. Based on this information, and in response to the needs of the youth in detention settings awaiting adjudication or placement, an Interactive Psychoeducational Group Curriculum (IPGC) was created. The IPGC was developed with the goal of decreasing the number of Major Rule Violations ( MRV ) within the detention facility by improving skills in the following five areas: Conflict Resolution, Emotional Intelligence, Co ping with Stress, Taking Perspective, and Communication. In addition, the IPGC was aligned with Colorado State Standards in Health, specifically, S tandard 3: Emotional and Social Wellness in Health for grades 4 th to 12 th The range of grade level standards allowed for the development of skills at multiple levels depending on the needs of the youth. Process Pod F and Pod M participated in the IPGC interve n tion, while the remaining pods received standard programming with DYC staff The F Pod held female y outh, and the M Pod held male youth. The two treatment pods participated in one lesson per week. However, due to safety concerns that arose, groups were postponed at times until the following week; thus, at times, youth received no lessons one week, then t wo lessons the following week as determined by the facility director. To provide an incentive for youth to participate in the groups, a snack was provided at the end of each group for youth who participated in the lesson for at least 50% of the time. Each lesson began with GYSC staff gathering the youth for group following a short period of time were typically permitted to choose their seating arrangements for the intervention unless an issue ar o s e Lessons were administered in a group format with individual components and GYSC staff were present


15 and encouraged to participate. Youth were required to show application of the lesson to a real world situation in order to demonstrate understanding of the content or topic. Sources of Data To measure whether the IPGC h as a positive effect, this evaluation used multiple approaches. T he number of major rule violations (MRV s ) GYSC already tracks daily, weekly, and monthly was provided by the facility director to determine whether there wa s a reduction in the number of MRV s within in the facility during the six month period the curriculum was being implemented, as compared with the same six months the previous year. In addition, comparative analyses were made between pods receiving the intervention and those not receiving the intervention during this period Due to confidentiality reasons, the months and years of the study will not be provided. In addition, youth names have been removed from any data provided by GYSC and po d designations have been renamed to protect the privacy of the juveniles within the facility Qualitative information was also gathered from the youth and staff via a n anonymous survey when the IPGC intervention was completed This survey asked about the engagement of youth and the effectiveness and usefulness of the curriculum. In addition the engagement of youth was assessed during each group. This was done by measuring whether at least 80% of the youth on the pod participated in the group activities for at least 50% of group time. This was meaning no.


16 CHAPTER IV RESULTS Each of the treatment pods were compared to con trol pods. In an effort to make the comparison as accurate as possible, the M pod was compared to the N pod as both pods served males with similar pending charges. Due to the limitation of only one female pod, the F pod was compared to the other remaining pod in the building, G pod. A paired samples t test was conducted to compare the number of MRV in treatment P od M and control P od N during the months of the psychoeducational intervention. Results indicated no significant differences in the number of MR V between the two pods. Additionally, a paired samples t test was conducted to compare the number of MRV in treatment P od F and control P od G during the months of the psychoeducational intervention. There was a significant difference in the number of MRV for the treatment P od F ( M =17.45, SD =5.287) and control P od G ( M =8.57, SD =5.855) conditions, t (6) =.3.175, p =.019. Results indicate that treatment P od F had a higher rate of MRV during the period of psychoeducational intervention than the control P od G. Similarly, scores indicate that treatment P od F had a higher rate of MRV during the same months prior to the implementation of the psychoeducational intervention than the control P od G. Therefore, F P od had significantly more MRV than G P od both befo re and after the intervention. It is important to note that these two pods have a specific difference when being compared, in that F P od is a female pod and G P od is a male pod. Th e data indicate that overall, the female pod had significantly more MRV than the male pod to which it was compared, and more MRV overall compared to each of the four other male pods in the building. This indicates that females in this detention setting have significantly more MRV than males, regardless of intervention.


17 Results of the qualitative survey indicated that 86% of youth surveyed enjoyed the groups and found them to be beneficial. However, due to the discharges that had occurred over the 6 month period, many of the youth that had participated in a majority of the groups h ad been released by the time the qualitative survey was conducted. In addition, the survey indicated that 96% of youth would prefer to engage in the groups as opposed to the lack of programming that occurred in the evenings following school hours. Analys es examining the degree of engagement in the IPGC indicated that at least 80% of the youth on the pod participated in the group activities for at least 50% of the group time. This standard of participation was met in every group setting except one, when a pod had only four youth who were present on the pod, and three participated in the group, yielding a 75% participation rate. Youth engaged in the groups participated for 100% of the group time. This is in contrast to youth engagement in academic activitie s: structured observations within various classroom settings in the facility revealed an average participation rate across all classrooms of less than 50%. The youth were observed sleeping, drawing on tables, verbally refusing to participate, talking to peers, or provoking peers until they were removed from the academic setting. In addition, many of the detainees simply refused to go to school at all and remained on the pod.


18 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION The aim of the current study was to examine the effectiven e ss of a group psychosocial intervention with detained youth in a juvenile justice setting. Many of the y outh in s uch settings ha ve a history of trauma (Ford & Hawke, 2012) and they often lack positive coping mechanisms and the skills needed to thrive in their environments (Ford et al., 2016). Although intervention s designed to address such challenges have been succes sfully implemented in juvenile justice settings where the youth are held for long periods of time (Ford et al., 2016), no such intervention has been developed and used with detainees A research informed Interactive Psychoeducational Group Curriculum (IPGC) was developed and implemented in two of the six pods/units at Gilliam Youth Services Center (GYSC) Analyses revealed that the intervention was not associated with a significant decrease in Major Rule Violations (MSV). However, this may have been du e in part to pre existing differences between the pods such as gender and significantly higher rates of MSV. Further, because individual youth were often transferred from pod to pod many did not have the opportunity to consistently participate in the inte rvention. However, qualitative data indicated that both participating youth and staff found the intervention to be engaging and useful. Moreover, the youth who participated in the intervention were consistently engaged in the lessons when they were provide d. Such active involvement in learning is significantly associated with learning and achievement (Wang & Eccles, 2012). Limitations Implementing and evaluating psychosocial curricul a with youth in a detention center is a complex process, complicated by a n umber of factors, including the population, the setting, and safety policies in the facility As such there are a number of limitations that need to be


19 acknowledged. First the facility had only one female pod so comparing one female pod to another female pod was not an option. In addition, a single female pod eliminated the ability of staff to permanently separate females involved in MRV together and consequently, after a brief time, females were placed back on F P od together. This differed from the male d etainees who had five pods in the facility : when they were involved in MRV together they were moved to another pod and separated permanently. It is possible that this was related to differences in the number of MRV between the female and male pods and could explain why the female pod had higher numbers of MRV regardless of intervention Another limitation relates to the individual youth. During the implementation of the intervention, three individual youth skewed the data for the female pod as th ey initiated multiple MRV during their time on the pod and when they were released, the number of MRV on F P od dramatically decreased. Another limitation relates to the fluidity of placement in the pods: youth were often moved from pod to pod while being d etained, so some may have started in the treatment group, but were transferred to a control pod prior to completion of the intervention. Unfortunately, in order to protect the identities of youth detainees, it was not possible to track MRV of individual yo uth, and instead only MRV for units or pods could be examined Thus, accurately tracking data and maintaining control and treatment groups was unrealistic based on the structure and functioning of the facility. These limitations may have contributed to th e lack of significant findings between treatment and control groups. Another limitation relates to the con t ent and len g th of the groups lessons. The psychoeducation curriculum implemented was limited to 20 40 minutes one day per week, with minimal emphasis on specific individual issues. Moreover, while previous research within juvenile justice settings has indicated that interventions were most effective when they were


20 gender specific (Ford et al., 2016), the curriculum developed for the current study was i ntended to be gender neutral, without an emphasis on traditional gender roles and norms. This was done in an attempt to be both socially and culturally responsive. It was important that the curriculum be relevant and accessible to youth who were non confor ming and/or identified as transgender. The admission of transgender youth to the facility was not uncommon and it was also not un usual for the same youth to identify as male at one admission and then as female at another admission. These youths were placed on the male or female pods based on how they identified. Therefore, had gender specific curricula been used, a transgender youth could potentially have been exposed to both ; making it difficult to determine which might be more appropriate or more effectiv e. However, it appears that the curriculum implemented was too generalized to have a significant impact on either gender. In addition, as the data demonstrated, the female pod had a significantly higher number of MRV than any of the male pods, both before and after the intervention. An additional limitation relates to the use of a generalized psychoeducational curriculum. In an effort to address the rate of admissions and create multiple access points to the curriculum, lessons were focused on the five are as of Conflict Resolution, Emotional Intelligence, Coping with Stress, Taking Perspective, and Communication in a generalized manner. In this way, each lesson was independent from other lessons such that the curriculum could be accessed by youth at any tim e This was done purposefully to accommodate the youth being brought into the facility each day and due to the limitation placed on the facility by the Department of Youth Corrections to avoid engaging in therapy. As such, the lessons did not address any s pecific traumatic experiences that youth were exposed to in relation to each of the five topic areas, but


21 instead focused on skill building in these areas. Th ese limitations may have been a factor in the lack of significant reduction in major rule violations Implications and Future Directions This study provides the first known attempt to implement and evaluate a psychosocial curriculum with youth held in a detention setting. Despite many practical limitations, qualitative data collected from participants and staff indicate that the intervention was viewed positively and seen as helpful by both staff and the youth who participated. Considering the disproportionate rates of mental disorders, trauma, and skills deficits in detained and incarcerated youth (Ford et al., 2016; Stahlberg & Anckarsater, 2010) efforts must continue to provide social emotional interventions to all youth in juvenile justice settings including those youth being detain ed Although t here are opportunities to catch up on missed academic credits and even graduate while being detained in settings such as GYSC, there are not opportunities to address some of the skills deficits and issues that increase the likelihood that you th end up in detainment in the first place, including a lack of social and emotional learning (SEL). Research has indicated that SEL is associated with the promotion of healthy student development and academic achievement, as well as the reduction of probl em behaviors. ( Cristvo1, Candeias, & Verdascal, 2017) academic education or change delinquent behaviors. Although many states and school districts are aware of the n eed for SEL and have developed SEL standards for each grade level (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2018), youth who are detained and who have demonstrated extreme challenges with social and emotional functioning are not provided this type of instruction, representing a missed opportunity for potential remediation and rehabilitation.


22 The results of the present study indicate that detained female youth may require very different interventions than males that support them in rehabil itation. This is consistent with previous research (Ford et al., 2016); however, it is not clear as to the gender specific components that may promote a decrease in delinquent behaviors both inside and outside of detention facilities. This is an area that requires additional study. Currently, juvenile detention facilities are being used as a form of punishment to dissuade delinquent behaviors instead of rehabilitating youth by providing them with the supports they need. The young people in detention settings receive little to no psychoeducational intervention before being placed back in the community (Skowyra & Powell, 2006 ; Willis, 2011 ). Not surprisingly, these young people then engage in similar delinquent behaviors and end up back in det ention settings. In order for reform to occur and for detained youth to receive the support needed for positive behavior change it is necessary to gather a more thorough history and background of individual needs for each youth. This is currently done in settings were youth have been adjudicated ; however, this is not a common practice in most detention centers. One cost effective approach to gathering such information is the use of social emotional screeners. Tools such as the Behavior Assessment System fo r Children, Second Edition Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BASC 2 BESS ; Kamphaus & Reynolds, 2007 ) could be administered when youth are admitted to the facility. Such measures can assist in both the identif ication of youth at risk for behavior and emotional problems as well as the stressors that the youth may have been exposed to. This could then allow for a more targeted approach to intervention, even within a short term detention setting. Youth must receive psychoeducational services pertinen t to their


23 circumstances, even in the intermittent periods of placement within detention settings if they are to develop the social and emotional skills needed for health growth and adjustment


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