Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $299,654)
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.
The proposed study addresses fundamental questions regarding the capacity of youth mentoring programs designed for underserved populations to prevent criminal offending in early adulthood. Two major federally-funded randomized trials of the My Life mentoring program for adolescents in foster care and special education will be extended with long-term follow-ups into early adulthood to evaluate whether the intervention has enduring effects on criminal offending and justice system involvement. In addition, the study will determine the cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit of My Life mentoring based on early adult outcomes, examine how particular My Life program components and mentoring practices contribute to positive effects on participant outcomes, and investigate whether the effects of My Life mentoring differ according to the risk profiles of participants. 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 fields of youth mentoring and child welfare through both scholarly and practitioner-oriented publications and presentations. Progress toward project goals and objectives will be demonstrated by documenting adherence to the proposed research design and protocol, publishing findings in peer-reviewed journals, and sharing results with practitioners and policy-makers via educational materials and presentations.