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Mentoring Best Practices Research: Effectiveness of Juvenile Offender Mentoring Programs On Recidivism

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $496,165)

This program seeks to enhance what is understood about mentoring as a prevention and intervention strategy for youth who are at risk of involvement or already involved in the juvenile justice system. This program funds research studies that will inform the design and delivery of mentoring programs. OJJDP expects that the results of this effort will encourage a more effective utilization of resources and enhance the implementation of evidence-based best practices for juvenile mentoring.

With the increase in the numbers of mentoring programs for juvenile offenders across the country, a need exists in examining these programs, both in terms of effectiveness and determining whether or not effectiveness is related to a youth's level of risk. While there is considerable funding provided to mentoring programs across the country, there are only a few empirical studies on their effectiveness related to recidivism. Given the limited results, it is imperative to determine "what works" in the mentoring of juvenile offenders. Specifically, this study will examine youth from both probation and parole across a range of urban and rural counties in Ohio. To address the gap in the current research, this project includes a comprehensive research strategy using risk and need data, youth level data, and program level data to answer the following research questions:
1. Are mentoring services effective in reducing juvenile reoffending?
2. How is the impact of mentoring on recidivism conditioned by levels of risk?
3. Does the impact differ based on youth characteristics (e.g., age, gender, race, stage of juvenile justice system) or match quality?
4. Does the type and quality of the mentoring program lead to differing outcomes?
The research plan for the proposed study includes (a) a quasi-experimental evaluation of the impact mentoring programs has on rearrest, re-adjudication/conviction, and re-incarceration; (b) a process evaluation of each mentoring program to understand and be able to control for the type and quality of mentoring services; and (c) a survey measuring the quality of the mentoring relationship from the youth's perspective. To ensure substantial sample sizes and sufficient follow-up periods, both a retrospective and prospective study will be completed. Participants in mentoring programs will be matched with like youth who are not receiving mentoring services to answer the four main research questions. As a result, CCJR will be able to help shape the development, implementation, and funding of mentoring programs in the future. CCJR will provide a final report detailing the influence that mentoring has on the intermediate and long-term outcomes and identify, empirically, those youth and program characteristics that are shown to have the greatest impact on future delinquency. In addition to the final report, CCJR will provide a research brief, at least one peer reviewed article, and one national presentation to ensure study results are widely disseminated.


Date Created: September 29, 2013