U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Referring Youth in Juvenile Justice Settings to Mentoring Programs: Effective Strategies and Practices to Improving the Mentoring Experience for At-Risk and High-Risk Youth

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2012
162 pages
The research reported here used multiple methods in obtaining data from mentoring and juvenile justice systems in order to determine how juvenile justice systems refer youth to mentoring, challenges faced during the referral process, examples of effective strategies for addressing these challenges, and action steps.
The U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has long been a leader in promoting mentoring as having a positive impact on the lives of youth living in high-risk environments. High-quality mentoring is a proven method for steering youth away from a life course that leads to truancy; delinquency; and eventual disconnection from school, work, and a satisfying and productive life. On the other hand, if mentoring is not done well, it can harm rather than help children and youth (Rhodes, 2002). In the current national survey of representatives of juvenile justice systems in all 50 States, approximately 60 percent reported that their programs use youth mentoring in some fashion. Nearly 40 percent of these programs serve youth who are already involved in the juvenile justice system. Approximately half of all juvenile justice settings that use monitoring reported that just over 50 percent of referred youth are ultimately placed into mentoring relationships. Juvenile justice settings that used embedded programs had an easier time. Although most youth are deemed acceptable for referral, not all are matched to a mentor, largely due to the fact that mentoring programs depend on volunteers as mentors. Judgments about the success of mentoring programs are hampered by the lack of follow-up with youth after referral. Challenges mentioned included the recruitment of volunteers for mentoring, continued funding, and lack of support of mentorees' families. Listing of survey questions and relevant technical assistance resources

Date Published: September 1, 2012