Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $299,920)
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.
Although delinquency among adolescent girls is rising, little research exists on the long-term effects of prevention programs meant for them. This project will conduct a long-term evaluation of a gender-specific program, the Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP), a one-on-one and group-based mentoring program, in preventing delinquency and related outcomes in girls at-risk for delinquency. The primary research questions this project seeks to answer through this evaluation initiative include: 1) Is YWLP effective long-term in preventing or reducing delinquency and associated risk outcomes in at-risk adolescent girls? 2) What do mentees and mentors identify as key mentoring and relationship processes related to effective mentoring? 3) Do key mentoring and relationship processes moderate the effects of the mentoring intervention in preventing or reducing girls' delinquency and associated risk outcomes during high school? This project will collect five-year follow-up surveys from girls who participated in a randomized evaluation of YWLP from 2007-2010. Sample includes two cohorts of girls (2008-09 and 2009-10) who were randomly assigned to participate in YWLP or in a control group during their 7th grade year. In addition, a third cohort (2007-2008) of program and control girls is being used to pilot test our recruitment strategies and measures and will be included in analyses for this project, boosting our sample size (total N=333). Girls were nominated for the study at the end of 6th grade because of individual or demographic characteristics related to delinquency risk and were assigned to YWLP or a control group condition; they completed a pre- and two post-assessments as part of the original study. Using five-year follow-up surveys collected from the girls and from teachers, we will statistically compare intervention and control groups for evidence of long-term program effects. A secondary goal is to assess the role of mentoring processes and relationship quality in explaining girls' long-term outcomes. The researchers will interview a subset (N=100) of girls and their mentors who are identified as the highest and lowest quality mentoring relationships (based on their scores on a relational quality scale from the original study). The interview data will be analyzed to identify "best practice" mentoring processes, and their moderating effect on outcomes tested. These data will be used to develop a new measure of key mentoring and relationship processes. Project reports will provide some of the first documentation of the long-term effectiveness of gender-specific programming in reducing problem behaviors related to girls' delinquency.