Since child maltreatment and foster care placement are strong risk factors for delinquency and juvenile justice involvement, and there is substantial crossover between youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, the current study examined the long-term impact of the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program, a 30-week mentoring and skills group preventive intervention for preadolescent maltreated children in foster care.
Participants included 426 children recently placed in out-of-home care who were randomized to intervention or control conditions. Outcomes included both self-reported delinquency, measured at multiple time points between 6 months and 12 years post-intervention, as well as court records of delinquency charges, which were measured for 7 consecutive years, beginning 3 months after the intervention began. Results from multilevel models indicated that the intervention group self-reported 30–82 percent less total and non-violent delinquency than the control group between ages 14 and 18. Court charges for total and violent delinquency in mid-adolescence were also 15–30 percent lower for the intervention group. These findings indicate that a mentoring and skills training program in preadolescence can reduce delinquency and justice involvement for children who are at high risk for these outcomes. (publisher abstract modified)