Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $499,894)
This program seeks to enhance what is understood about 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. Research is also needed to demonstrate the specific components of mentoring programs that have a significant impact in reducing juvenile delinquency and offending. This program funds research studies that will inform the design and delivery of mentoring programs. OJJDP expects 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 Justice Appropriations Act, 2012, Public Law 112-55.
The goal of this mixed-methods study is to explain how participant characteristics, dyadic processes, and program practices contribute to premature endings in mentoring relationships so that empirically-based program practices can be implemented to prevent early match closures. A prospective, naturalistic approach following a sample (n=360) of new mentoring relationships in an evidence-based program and employing quantitative methods for analyzing event occurrence will be used to identify factors that predict early closing relationships. Retrospective, forensic approaches generating both qualitative and quantitative data will be employed to obtain in-depth understanding of exactly what transpired in relationships that closed prematurely. Program data collected in the normal course of practice will be combined with data collected to address the research questions for this project. Focus groups with experts will be used to interpret the research findings, consider implications, and develop recommendations for policy and practice. Study findings and recommendations will be disseminated widely within the field of youth mentoring through both scholarly and practitioner-oriented publications and presentations. Progress toward project goals and objectives will be demonstrated by completing planned research procedures, publishing findings in peer-reviewed journals, and sharing results with practitioners and policy-makers via educational materials and presentations.