Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $472,906)
The proposed research will produce knowledge about how to prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs and reduce delinquency among active gang members. It will evaluate a modification of Functional Family Therapy (FFT), a model program from the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development initiative. This modification, FFT-G, was developed in an earlier phase of the research. A randomized trial testing this adaptation is currently underway with funding from Smith Richardson Foundation. The current application seeks funding to complete phase 1 of the study, in which the immediate effects of the intervention post intervention (6 months after randomization) will be tested. An 18-month follow-up is also planned but funds for this phase are not requested in this proposal. The long-term goal is the designation of FFT-G as a national Blueprint Model Program for a new and especially high-risk population, members of street gangs, thus providing the first known evidence-based program (EBP) for such youth. In addition to scholarly articles and presentations about the project, this research will produce a program model that is ready for broad dissemination, an existing dissemination mechanism, and a model for how public agencies can fund EBPs using existing funding streams. Given recent estimates that more than 782,000 gang members reside in the U.S. , this product is expected to have a large impact on community uptake of the model.
Approximately 200 adjudicated males age 11-17 who reside in inner city Philadelphia neighborhoods with high gang prevalence and are gang members or at high risk for joining a gang will be court-ordered to receive family therapy. These subjects are then randomly assigned to receive FFT-G (treatment) or another family therapy typically used by the court (control). Treatment lasts 5 to 6 months. Participating youths and their care-givers complete interviews prior to random assignment and at 6 months post-randomization, and data from court and public assistance records are obtained. Interviews assess criminal activity, involvement in gangs, and several targeted risk factors that contribute to these poor outcomes. A process evaluation documents program implementation as well as costs for both the FFT -G and control groups.
This research involves a partnership among Philadelphia Family Court, University of Maryland, Temple University, three Philadelphia youth-serving agencies, and the FFT national organization.