Remaining flexible is helpful in developing a gender-specific program. To create a program that meets the needs of an all-female population, it is necessary to:
Select staff willing to work with females.
Select staff willing to develop a team.
Develop a profile of the girls in the program.
Understand the needs of the female population.
Locate community resources that focus on female issues.
Secure interns from local colleges and universities.
Provide an office setting that the girls will feel comfortable visiting.
Two years after FIT began, 50 percent fewer females were committed to Maryland's secure commitment facility.
According to FIT records, 2 years after FIT began, 50 percent fewer females from Baltimore City were committed to Maryland's secure commitment facility. The next year, the decrease was 95 percent. Administrators for the department did not understand why there was such a dramatic change in the commitment rate after just 2 years of providing gender-specific services. The explanation, however, was easy: FIT was not recommending secure commitment because the girls were not committing offenses that warranted secure commitment. Rather, they were running away from home or committing simple assaults and property offenses. In 1994 and 1995, no girls from Baltimore City were committed to the secure facility. In 1996, two girls were committed, each with very serious offenses. Case managers remain very involved with the girls' families.
The team concept has been the key ingredient that has made FIT successful. Staff work together, have lunch together, discuss difficult cases, and develop solutions as a team. Parents and girls know that if their case manager is out of the office, another case manager familiar with their case will see and talk to them. Each case manager is familiar with cases that require special attention. Working together is the key to developing the best programs and services and providing them to clients.