Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2011, $497,095)
This program seeks to enhance the understanding of mentoring as a prevention strategy for youth who are at risk of involvement or already involved in the juvenile justice system. While mentoring appears to be a promising intervention for youth, more evaluation work is needed to further highlight the components of a mentoring program that are most effective. In addition, there is a need for research specifically demonstrating the components of mentoring programs that have a significant impact in reducing juvenile delinquency and offending. This solicitation seeks to fund research studies on juvenile mentoring that will inform the design and delivery of mentoring programs. It is expected that the results of this effort will encourage a more effective utilization of resources as well as enhance the implementation of evidence-based best practices for juvenile mentoring. This program is authorized by the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, Pub. L. 112-110.
The Research Foundation of SUNY, University at Albany will evaluate a parent engagement model incorporated in an established mentoring program. The intervention will be implemented by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region (BBBSCR) which serves youth in four upstate New York counties. Nearly 98% of BBBSCR youth come from low-income or single parent homes, and 34% have an incarcerated parent. The Center for Human Services Research will utilize a quasi-experimental design to evaluate this demonstration. The study will assign 100 families who enroll in the mentoring program to a parent engagement intervention which consists of the usual mentoring program plus a parent orientation training, a parent handbook, enhanced match support and the opportunity to participate in family events. Their outcomes will be compared to a treatment-as usual group of 100 families who will receive only standard mentoring services. The study will measure the effects of the parent engagement model on increasing parental support of mentoring, enhancing the mentoring relationship (quality, intensity and duration) and reducing the precursors to juvenile delinquency. Parental engagement has been noted in the literature as a key moderator of mentoring program effectiveness and this study will likely provide important information on this issue.