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Extending a Randomized Trial of the My Life Mentoring Model for Youth in Foster Care To Evaluate Long-Term Effects on Offending in Young Adulthood

NCJ Number
Jennifer E. Blakeslee; Thomas E. Keller
Date Published
January 2018
49 pages
The methodology and findings are reported for an evaluation of the "My Life" weekly mentoring model for foster youth, which incorporates both individual and group mentoring to improve the understanding and application of self-determination skills intended to improve transition outcomes.

Two major randomized trials of the My Life mentoring program for adolescents in foster care were extended to include long-term follow-ups into early adulthood. This enabled the determination of whether the intervention has enduring effects on delinquency and criminal justice involvement at 2 years post-intervention. Overall, the findings show long-term intervention effects on criminal justice outcomes. Approximately 15 percent had some form of criminal justice involvement in early adulthood; however, almost twice as many youth in the control group reported involvement in the criminal justice system compared to those who had been randomized to receive the mentoring intervention years after leaving the program. There were clear intervention effects regarding the number in jail in the prior year, the number of incarceration days involved, and the range of punitive justice system involvement. Indications are that the mentoring model may reduce justice involvement among groups who are at greater risk, specifically males and youth who do not receive developmental disability services. There is some evidence of a protective effect among youth who had no prior delinquency at baseline; however, no treatment effects were observed on measures of self-reported delinquent behavior or arrests, including charge type or severity. Thus, these findings are consistent with the growing base of knowledge that supports the ability of mentoring interventions to reduce delinquency, crime, and involvement in the justice system. This study also reports on how the research methodology addressed significant gaps in mentoring research. 15 tables and 71 references