In September 2010, CAI was awarded a contract from the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), Administration for Children and Families, to conduct a rigorous research project to assess the efficacy of an intervention, called Development for Youth (DFY) Take Charge! CAI developed DFY nearly two decades ago for the New York State Division for Youth (now called the Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth). DFY is a multi-session, small group intervention developed to reduce sexual risk behaviors and unplanned pregnancy among youth in foster care settings. For nearly 20 years, NYS Division of Juvenile Justice has used parts of the DFY intervention in its group homes and residential programs.
As part of the project's design, recruited youth can be randomized into two different programs that are being implemented by partner agencies - the intervention, Take Charge! and the control, Healthy Living. Healthy Living is a single session, two hour program that helps youth identify behaviors that pose health risks and learn ways to reduce those risks. Each young person in Healthy Living will develop an action plan to reduce his or her personal health risks. DFY Take Charge! is designed to address the developmental needs of adolescents in 12, two hour sessions that are comprised of a variety of highly interactive activities which allow the youth to:
- Explore various issues that relate to sexual behavior including feelings, values, attitudes, decisions, sex, drugs, communications, relationships and responsibility.
- Increase cognitive and emotional awareness and management skills that help participants better manage their behaviors.
- Increase skills related to sexual risks behaviors such as coping, decision making and communication skills.
- Help adolescents make healthier choices through skills building, accurate information, interactive discussions, peer support and sharing.
As a group-level intervention, DFY uses the influence of the social environment to support and promote healthy choices thereby increasing self-efficacy, self-determination and capacity to shape positive outcomes for themselves.
The evaluation of this project will be carried out by the independent firm, Philliber Research Associates (PRA). PRA has a long track record in the evaluation of adolescent pregnancy programs, with a standing staff of eight senior associates (all with doctoral level degrees), data analysts, evaluation coordinators, and support staff.