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An Ecological Model of Risk and Protection for Delinquency and Juvenile Justice Involvement among Maltreated Youth: A Longitudinal Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2021
36 pages

This is the Draft Final Technical Report for a study that tested the efficacy of Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF), a mentoring and skills group preventive intervention, in reducing the delinquency of youth with histories of childhood maltreatment and placement in foster care.


FHF is a 9-month intervention designed for preadolescent children placed in court-ordered foster care as a result of maltreatment. The program consists of one-on-one mentoring and skills groups, incorporating many of the key elements that have proven to prevent delinquent behavior and other adverse outcomes. Weekly groups of participants use a cognitive behavioral approach, with a focus on teaching children social skills. Mentors support children in practicing and generalizing these skills in their homes, schools, and communities. The program focuses on the establishment of a strong mentor-mentee relationship and engaging in instrumental, goal-focused activities during mentoring visits. FHF has demonstrated positive effects on mental health symptoms, and service use, leading to a reduction in placement changes, foster-care costs, and residential treatment up to 1-year after the intervention. The current study’s recruitment began in August 2002 in Denver, Colorado, and expanded to three other metro-area counties in 2007. Recruitment letters were sent to families of all children between the ages of 9 and 11 years old who were living in out-of-home care within the participating counties. Of those contacted, 90.1 percent of the children and families agreed to participate in the program. Of the 426 children who were randomized to intervention and control groups, 89 percent were retained at Time 2; 84.3 percent at Time 3; and 91.8 percent of those eligible for the Time 4 interview. Study results suggest that the FHF program weakened the pipeline between child maltreatment and delinquency and between the child welfare and juvenile justice system. 4 figures, 4 tables, and 47 references

Date Published: March 1, 2021