Mentoring is commonly viewed as an important prevention strategy for youth at risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system. Unfortunately, providing mentoring to the highest-risk youth can be extremely challenging. This multisite randomized controlled trial examines the impact of a 12-year long professional youth mentoring program, Friends of the Children (FOTC), on boys and girls who were identified during kindergarten as at the highest risk and lowest protection for future problems, including antisocial behavior and delinquency. Children were identified through an intensive six-week selection process, working in partnership with neighborhood public schools located in distressed communities within four major metropolitan areas in the Eastern and Western U.S. The majority of children and mentors in the study are racial or ethnic minority, from either low SES or extreme poverty households. On an annual basis, parents/caregivers, children, mentors, and teachers will be queried about child problem behaviors and strengths. Measures of the mentor-child relationship, including direct observations of mentor-child problem solving interactions, will be taken each year. Child outcomes across the first four years of the program will be examined using cutting-edge statistical techniques.Year Project Began: 2014
Funder: National Institute of Justice
Jennifer Cearley, Ph.D.
Oregon Social Learning Center
Primary Research and Clinical Interests
Dr. Cearley has been with OSLC since 2000. She worked on several intervention studies at OSLC before finishing her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis on Human Services in 2008. Currently, she is working as a post-doctoral fellow on the Child Study, a randomized controlled trial of a long-term professional mentoring program for at-risk urban youth. Dr. Cearley has worked with youth in the Juvenile Justice System since 1999, and is very interested in conducting research to build programming both for youth involved in the Juvenile Justice System, as well as early intervention for youth in the community at risk of becoming involved with the system. Her dissertation research involved an analysis of the development of antisocial behavior in girls compared to boys in a sample of youth were previously involved with the Oregon Youth Authority, and she continues to have strong interest in conducting research that may benefit these youth. Additional interests of Dr. Cearley’s include re-entry from correctional institutions to the community and work with the children of incarcerated parents.