Leveraging Evidence to Activate Parents (LEAP)

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

This study (R01DA050669) will investigate task-shifting of Parent Activation (PA) to Juvenile Probation Officers (JPOs) in rural communities by examining the capacity of JPOs to deliver PA within justice services and the impact of PA on youth and family outcomes.

Project Overview

LEAP will evaluate the use and impact of a key feature of family-based treatments – Parent Activation (PA) – when delivered by Juvenile Probation Officers (JPOs) within juvenile justice (JJ) services. The JJ system serves 1+ million cases per year and represents the primary referral source for treatment of substance use and delinquent behavior in youth. The most effective treatments for JJ youth are family-based and work by activating parents. However, many communities, particularly those in rural areas, lack the resources to support delivery of those services. Even when communities can support a family-based treatment, less than 1 in 5 JJ youth engage in those programs. JPOs are on the front line of this crisis – they have limited options for treatment referrals, and they lack access to the time and clinical training required to deliver one of the intensive family-based treatments. However, JPOs might be able to deliver a key mechanism of family-based treatments (that is, activation of parents). Fortuitously, in the healthcare field, there is an effective strategy called PA to engage and motivate parents of at-risk youth. The central hypothesis of the current study is that PA might also help JPOs activate parents and achieve improved youth (recidivism, substance use) and family (parent involvement) outcomes. Using a stepped-wedge design, 32 rural counties from various locations in the Pacific Northwest will be randomized to the timing of PA training and delivery. The investigators will examine if JPOs in those counties can deliver PA with fidelity, whether PA has an impact on justice-involved youth and family outcomes, and what factors influence PA implementation.

Year Project Began: 2020
Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Principal Investigator

Michael R. McCart, Ph.D.

Mike McCart
Senior Research Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Active Research Projects

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. McCart is a licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training in cognitive, behavioral, and family systems approaches to treating serious problems in adolescents and emerging adults. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has been a Senior Research Scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) since 2014. Prior to joining the OSLC, Dr. McCart was the Associate Director of the Family Services Research Center and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Dr. McCart’s research centers on enhancing behavioral health services for two high-risk populations: (1) adolescents and emerging adults with substance use and co-occurring behavior problems and (2) victims of interpersonal violence. His work with those groups, funded by NIDA, NIMH, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and others, spans all phases of intervention research, including initial development and pilot testing of treatment protocols, randomized efficacy studies, and multi-site effectiveness trials. Dr. McCart has over 50 publications and serves on the Editorial Board for two professional journals. In addition to his research expertise, Dr. McCart has provided consultation and supervision to therapists treating adolescents, emerging adults, and families for over fourteen years.