one another’s work. Therefore, we approached our work
with the juvenile court with sustainability in mind.
We also considered how juvenile detention centers
around the country might be able to adapt the intervention
for their own use. For instance, we recognized that most
juvenile detention centers conduct school Monday through
Friday and the intervention would need to be feasible on
either weeknights or weekends. It was important to us to
tailor the intervention to the specific community and recognize that the intervention will likely need significant adaptation in each subsequent dissemination context. Conversely, explicitly clarifying our long-term dissemination
goals with our multidisciplinary team allowed for sustainable changes to be made so that the intervention could be
modified to fit different settings as needed.
However, we recognize that funding and the broader
policy context could significantly limit the wide-scale implementation of this intervention. Our aim was to sustain a
grant-funded and volunteer workforce for long enough to
test the feasibility of such an intervention in the juvenile
detention setting. We utilized clinical doctoral students,
who need supervised clinical hours for their graduation.
Although we recognized that this workforce may not be
permanent, we knew it would be sustainable for multiple
years and we discussed, at length, other options should the
program continue (e.g., engaging social work students).
Developing such a workforce may not be feasible in some
communities nor on a national level. As such, the wide-scale dissemination of our intervention would have to further consider the broader policy context and limitations,
such as the availability of Medicaid funding for services.
Our aim in the early stages of this work was to establish
preliminary feasibility within the juvenile detention setting
that may help to inform whether such funding should be
Facing Challenges and Finding Solutions
Although our project benefited immensely from collaborating, as with most team-based efforts, we also faced
numerous challenges coordinating our multidisciplinary
team and during the planning and execution stages of the
project. We describe some of the most noteworthy challenges that we faced as well as the process of finding
solutions in the sections that follow.
Coordinating and Sustaining a
We worked to keep all members of the team updated
regarding the project procedures. An illustrative example
was when the group facilitators realized that they had a
different understanding than detention staff regarding which
adolescents (intervention participants and age-matched con-
trol participants) were allowed to receive candy as a reward
for their participation in the research. The staff raised con-
cerns about administering candy in detention setting outside
of group sessions and explained that providing candy to
only some participants could represent inequitable rewards.
Once the full team understood all sides of the issue, we
reworked incentives for participants. It was decided that
control participants would be provided with certificates that
indicated that they voluntarily contributed to a research
project, which could be given to a judge, probation officer,
or other court professional, rather than candy.
While developing the intervention, our multidisciplinary
team faced challenges in deciding where to deliver the
intervention, whom should be the target of intervention, and
the general research design. We describe these challenges
and how the team formulated solutions.
Delivery setting. We originally planned to conduct our
invention in a community setting. Accordingly, we worked
with community mental health partners to find a neutral
location ( i.e., other than at the courthouse) to run group
sessions and address issues around transportation. We also
worked extensively with probation officers delivering psychoeducation classes to justice-involved adolescents to facilitate recruitment. After many problem-solving team
meetings and unsuccessful recruitment efforts, we decided
that we would have to think more flexibly about our approach in this early stage of intervention development and
evaluation. We discovered that there was a great need for
intervention services for adolescents who were already residing in juvenile detention. The team decided that delivering the intervention inside a juvenile detention facility was
a reasonable adjustment that would allow us to conduct our
feasibility and pilot studies while also providing a sorely
needed service to youth already in the system.
Scope of the intervention. Our original plan was to
recruit participants with domestic violence charges and target future family violence as our primary outcome; however, this focus proved unworkable logistically and clinically. Logistically, narrowing our eligibility requirements in
this way would require a consistent need to use the court’s
resources to determine which adolescents fell into this category, ultimately creating strain on court staff. The narrow
focus would also undermine our ability to recruit enough
eligible adolescents to participate. Clinically, our court partners emphasized the scarcity of mental health services being
offered to all adolescents in detention. They expressed their
preference to offer the new intervention to as many adolescents as possible and to include both males and females. In
order to uphold the rigor of intervention science and also
respect the preferences of our community partners, we ultimately agreed to expand the intervention to serve adoles-
336 O’HARA ET AL.