Girls Gaining and Growing
Girls Gaining and Growing (G3) is a specialized program for girls with mental health issues who have been the perpetrators of violence in their homes. This program was created by NEDFYS' Associate Director, Vivica Odell, and Clinical Service Managers Jaclyn LaPorte and Libby Sanders. NEDFYS is currently using G3 to serve girls who are incarcerated in the Warrenville Youth Center maintained by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ).
In 2019, NEDFYS served 19 adolescent girls through our G3 program. Our therapists conducted a total of 40 group sessions at IDJJ and provided aftercare services to 6 girls released from Warrenville.
The G3 Program is innovative and is transforming lives such as Alyssa’s. Alyssa, a 17-year old girl from central Illinois, was incarcerated at the Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville due to drug offenses. While at IDJJ, she enrolled in G3. Alyssa, just like all girls in the program, was assessed for trauma, family violence, past substance abuse, gang involvement, and ongoing mental health issues. Her initial intake assessment showed significant childhood trauma. She was abusing heroin and prescription drugs with her peer group which led to excessive truancy from school.
Alyssa attended our G3 group sessions regularly. As part of these group sessions, she learned new strategies for managing her anger, improved her communication and decision-making skills, learned how to set appropriate boundaries, and planned for her future once she returned home.
After leaving the Illinois Youth Center, Alyssa stayed in regular contact with NEDFYS staff, and the staff was able to reconnect her with her previous therapist and arranged for continued therapy services. NEDFYS actively supported her return home, where she re-enrolled in school, decreased her substance use, obtained part-time employment, and actively sought new friends. Alyssa now has the tools to continue making healthy choices and responsible decisions and we are optimistic that G3 has made a transformative impact.