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Girls Circle: An Evaluation Of A Structured Support Group Program For Girls

NCJ Number
Stephen V. Gies; Marcia I. Cohen; Mark Edberg; Amanda Bobnis; Elizabeth Spinney; Elizabeth Berger
Date Published
December 2015
121 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of an evaluation of the Girls Circle model, which is intended for girls ages 9-18 with problem behaviors addressed by the juvenile justice system and is based on relational theory, resiliency practices, and skills training in a gender-specific format intended to increase participants' positive connections, competence, and personal and collective strengths.
The impact evaluation assessed the short-term and long-term outcomes of program participants. A total of 178 girls were recruited for the study and randomly assigned to either the treatment or control group; (119 treatment and 59 control). The central analysis assessed the long-term impact of the Girls Circle program on recidivism, using survival models to predict time until next justice system contact. The findings showed the superiority of the Girls Circle group in reducing recidivism compared to traditional juvenile case processing; however, these findings were significantly moderated by the number of Girls Circle sessions attended. There were no significant differences between the Girls Circle group and the control group regarding petitions, when treatment program dosage was taken into account. Controlling for the number of Girls Circle sessions attended was related to a significant increase in participants' average condom use, educational aspirations, and educational expectations. Unexpectedly, the Girls Circle participants' average self-control scores decreased significantly. Overall findings indicate an inconsistent and unbalanced application of the Girls Circle program. Suggestions for improving the program and its positive effects are offered. 10 tables, 5 figures, 116 references, and appended methodological materials