The Multidisciplinary Team Program consists of five teams located throughout San Bernardino County, California. Each team has a probation officer, a public health nurse, a licensed clinical therapist, a social services practitioner, volunteers, and others as dictated by client need. The teams implement a case management protocol in which high-risk juvenile probationers are diagnosed through the use of a risk assessment instrument that examines the juvenile’s social functioning, which includes factors such as crime at an early age, disrupted families, school failure, drug and alcohol abuse, and association with other delinquent youths. The team then provides direct service and service referrals relevant to each team member’s professional experience. Interventions include restitution, community services, counseling, and group therapy.
The treatment plan is developed by concentrating on specific problems, possible solutions, strengths of the juvenile and the family, and goals to be met during the treatment phase. The program targets first-time offenders 17 or younger who are at risk for becoming involved in serious crime, including gang activity. The treatment framework is a wraparound or case management modality that is designed to holistically diagnose a juvenile’s problems and then provide intensive treatment to the juvenile and his or her family.
Research on the Multidisciplinary Team Program is based on a larger study that randomly designated juveniles into a treatment group or a control group. The purpose of this study was to compare the outcomes of gang-affiliated juveniles and nongang juveniles who both participated in the Multidisciplinary Team Program. The sample included 145 juveniles identified as gang members and 137 nongang members. More than 70 percent of the juveniles in the gang member group were Hispanic. Nearly half of the juveniles in the nongang group were white. The data was collected from various sources: interviews with the juvenile, interviews with family members, the San Bernardino County Probation Department, and school officials. Six months after participating in the Multidisciplinary Team Program, regardless of involvement in or identification with gang activities, the participating juveniles had benefited from the program. Gang and nongang members both revealed significant improvements in such school factors as increased grade-point average, lower number of classes missed, and reduced number of suspensions. Both groups also reported improvements in family functioning and decreases in alcohol and substance abuse (even though juveniles in the gang group reported more problems than the nongang at both the pretest and posttest). Finally, improvements were observed in subsequent delinquent activity for both gang and nongang members.
National Gang Center and OJJDP Model Programs Guide: Promising program
Pamela J. Schram, Ph.D.
Department of Criminal Justice
California State University—San Bernardino
5500 University Parkway
San Bernardino, CA 92407-2397
Phone: (909) 537-5255
Schram, P. J., and Gaines, L. K. (2005). “Examining Delinquent Nongang Members and Delinquent Gang Members: A Comparison of Juvenile Probationers at Intake and Outcomes.” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 3(2):99–115.
Schram, P.J., & Gaines, L.K. (in press). Comparing the effects of treatment on female juvenile gang and non-gang members. Women & Criminal Justice, 18, 1-15.