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A randomized controlled trial of enhanced mentoring program practices for children of incarcerated caregivers: Assessing impacts on youth and match outcomes

NCJ Number
Journal of Community Psychology Volume: Online Dated: 2023
Date Published

This article presents findings from a longitudinal evaluation of enhanced mentoring program practices which were designed for supporting children of incarcerated parents. 


Parental incarceration is an adverse childhood experience that is associated with heightened risk for negative outcomes in youth. Mentoring programs seek to mitigate this risk by providing children of incarcerated parents (COIP) with a supportive relationship that fosters positive outcomes. The current study presents findings from a longitudinal evaluation of enhanced mentoring program practices designed for supporting COIP. One thousand three hundred and thirty-four COIP mentees, their parents or guardians, and their mentors were randomly assigned to receive either enhanced or business as usual (BAU) mentoring. Mentees who received enhanced mentoring demonstrated improved positive self-cognitions, and reduced internalizing behavior problems, intentions to use substances, and substance use, compared with youth who received BAU mentoring. The enhancements had no impact on the quality of mentoring relationships and the enhanced matches had shorter mentoring relationships compared with BAU matches. This evaluation demonstrates that the enhanced mentoring program practices for COIP had significant, positive impacts on outcomes for this special population of youth and suggests that enhanced practices tailored to COIP should be implemented throughout the duration of the mentoring relationship to be most effective. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023