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Evaluation of the Effects of Mentoring Program for Youth in Foster Care on Their Criminal Justice Involvement as Young Adults

NCJ Number
J. E. Blakeslee; T. E. Keller
Date Published
2 pages
This study examined the long-term effects of the "My Life" mentoring program for youth in foster care regarding their criminal offending in early adulthood.
The study's overall conclusion is that the "My Life" mentoring program was linked to less criminal offending in early adulthood among male foster youth who participated in the program. Of the foster youth in the mentoring program, 15.2 percent had past-year criminal justice involvement when measured at ages 19 to 21 (n=154). Criminal justice involvement was twice as high for those foster youth who did not participate in the mentoring program. The cost-benefit analysis indicated that it cost three times as much to incarcerate the youth in the non-mentored group who later reported having been incarcerated in young adulthood, compared to the cost of mentoring them in the "My Life" program model while they were in high school. The My Life model uses weekly structured individual and group mentoring activities for 16-18 year-old youth in foster care. The goal is to improve their self-determination skills in meeting their goals. This study analyzed previously collected data from two randomized controlled trials of the My Life mentoring model for foster youth (n=293) and added follow-up assessment of criminal justice outcomes at 2 years post-intervention (ages 19 to 21). Measures of criminal justice involvement included self-reported past-year arrests and convictions, days incarcerated or on probation, and two self-report offending scales. Moderation analysis examined differences in intervention effectiveness by gender, identified disability, and prior delinquency. Youth who participated in the mentoring program received an average of 100 direct mentoring and indirect service hours over the course of 1 year. Online access to the full report and a description of the My Life model.