Youth Short-Term Executive Plus (Y-STEP): Implementing a Cognitive Intervention Among Young Offenders to Reduce Violence and Recidivism

Principal Investigator: Joshua Cantor, PhD; Co-Principal Investigator: Wayne Gordon, PhD
Project period: 2012-2015

In this translational project, an adapted, empirically validated cognitive rehabilitation intervention, originally developed for adults with TBI, will be implemented with a recidivist juvenile offender population of youths with and without TBI. This intervention, referred to as Y-STEP (Youth Short Term Executive Plus), targets cognitive and behavioral challenges associated with executive dysfunction as well as deficits in emotional self-regulation. Y-STEP will be the first empirically evaluated intervention for young offenders with TBI. This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), where Y-STEP was piloted at the El Paso County Juvenile Justice Center. The project is supporting the implementation and evaluation of Y-STEP in two different TJJD probation programs and will examine program outcomes. The study’s focus is on establishing feasibility and proof-of-concept. The hypothesis will be tested that Y-STEP will result in fewer criminal offenses and violent crimes among youth offenders. Outcomes in youths receiving the intervention will be compared to those of youths who received services prior to Y-STEP’s introduction at the same sites.

The study will examine whether benefits from Y-STEP are found differentially in youth offenders with and without TBI and will identify demographic and other factors that are associated with positive and negative program outcomes. To facilitate successful replication of Y-STEP, the study will identify barriers to and facilitators of the implementation of the intervention.

A treatment manual covering provider training, treatment implementation and maintenance of treatment fidelity will be developed to support the widespread adoption of Y-STEP by other juvenile justice centers.

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