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Amicus Partners with Wilder Research, Hennepin County to Explore “What Works” for At-Risk Girls

December 29, 2011

$400,000 federal grant will enable a three-year evaluation of Amicus Radius

The new Amicus "Radius Evaluation Team" will work with Wilder Research and Hennepin County to explore "what works" in juvenile justice programming for girls.

 Girls have often been overlooked in the U.S. juvenile justice system, but that’s changing. While boys are still arrested more often than girls, arrest rates for female juveniles are growing at a much faster rate and an estimated 15,000 girls are arrested each year in Minnesota alone. Girls also represent 44 percent of Minnesota’s out of home placement population – over 6,500 in 2007.

In response to these facts, Amicus, a local nonprofit which works with inmates and those reentering society after involvement with the justice system, has partnered with Wilder Research to explore what works best in addressing the needs of girls involved in the juvenile justice system.

For over a decade Amicus has operated Radius, a nationally known program that works with girls ages 12-18 who have been involved in the juvenile justice system. Radius is built along the belief that girls who get involved with delinquent behavior have very different needs than boys. They’re more motivated by relationships and their relationships, good or bad, often contribute to their behavior.  Girls are also more likely to have experienced trauma, abuse or mental health issues.

The grant provides funding for a rigorous evaluation of Amicus Radius that will compare outcomes (including re-arrests, reconvictions, and out-of-home placements) for program participants with a historical comparison group. Wilder Research and Amicus will also be working collaboratively with Hennepin County’s Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation to gather and analyze data. The project will help identify the most effective program elements of Radius and inform efforts to duplicate those elements in other girls’ programs throughout the country.  In addition to the outcome and process evaluation, an estimate of the return-on-investment (ROI) for the Radius program will be conducted to assess the economic value of the program, informing public policy discussions about the value of this or similar programs to their communities.  The evaluation program is scheduled to run through September 2014.

“We’re very excited about this opportunity to examine what works in our Radius program and grateful for the partnership with Hennepin County and Wilder Research” Amicus President Louise Wolfgramm said.  “We know that Radius is having a deep and powerful impact on girls’ lives and we’d like to be able to show the world that as well.”

Wolfgramm also noted that more rigorous evaluative measures are rapidly becoming a standard expectation for those funding nonprofit programs and believes lessons from the partnership’s work with Radius will help Amicus improve its program evaluation across the agency.

“For a nonprofit to thrive in this economy, it must be constantly seeking out new ways to show its value to society. We’re grateful that this opportunity with Wilder Research can help us look closely at our already great agency and make it even better.”

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