OSLC Relationship Study 1

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

An intervention with 13- to 17-year-old females with histories of chronic criminal behavior and mental health problems referred from the juvenile justice system.

Project Overview

The Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) conducted this intervention study with 130 13- to 17-year-old females with histories of chronic criminal behavior and mental health problems, referred from the juvenile justice system. This study was designed to test the efficacy of a Treatment Foster Care of Oregon (TFCO) intervention compared to “community treatment as usual” and to investigate how the relationships that girls have with significant others (e.g., parents, mentors, friends, boyfriends) affect their proximal and long-term adjustment in diverse areas of functioning. An additional aim was to examine the relationship between key components of treatment and outcomes.

Participants were randomly assigned to participate in TFCO or in “usual” community treatment, most often placement to a Group Care home or residential facility. In TFCO, girls were matched with and placed in community families trained and supervised to provide girls with close supervision, adult mentoring, and consistent limits. Girls in TFCO received individual and family therapy, skill training, and academic support. Girls in the control condition were most often placed in aggregate care settings with 6-16 other youths. Typically they participated in group, family, and individual therapy. Study girls were assessed at frequent intervals throughout their placement periods and in follow-up. The study examined the characteristics and contexts of gender appropriate treatments that help girls reduce criminal activity, drug use, and health-risking sexual behavior and improve their supportive and productive relationships and level of functioning in the community.

Year Project Began: 2000
Year Project Completed: 2002
Funder: National Institute of Mental Health

Principal Investigator

Patricia Chamberlain, Ph.D.

Science Director
Oregon Social Learning Center

Active Research Projects

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Chamberlain’s interest in developing interventions for children and families emerged from her early work as a special education teacher. She has conducted several studies on treatment for children, youth, and families in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and mental health systems. She founded the Treatment Foster Care Oregon (formerly Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care/MTFC; www.tfcoregon.com) and KEEP (www.keepfostering.org) intervention models. TFCO is an alternative to group, residential, and institutional placement for youngsters with high behavioral and emotional needs. KEEP provides enhanced support and training to state foster and relative parents to prevent placement disruptions, improve reunification rates, and to reduce parent stress and child behavioral and emotional problems. TFCO and KEEP are being widely implemented throughout the United States and in Europe (see www.tfcoregon.com and keepfostering.org). Dr. Chamberlain has been the Principal Investigator on 9 randomized trials examining the efficacy of parent mediated intervention approaches. She has been the P.I. on two P50 Centers of Excellence. She currently is focused on implementation research with an emphasis on what it takes to integrate and scale-up evidence-based practices into real-world agencies and systems. Since 2012, she has led an effort to implement KEEP and Parent Management Training in the New York City child welfare system involving over 300 case workers and supervisors serving over 2,000 children and families at 11 sites (CSNYC). Currently, she is leading an effort to implement KEEP statewide in Tennessee as part of In Home Tennessee, their Title IVE waiver program. Other recent work has also focused on the development of intervention models for adolescent girls in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. In addition to working on research aimed at improving outcomes for youth and foster and biological families, she is interested in how to support child public service systems to improve the efficiency of their routine practices. Dr. Chamberlain is a senior fellow at the Society for Prevention Research (SPR), and was inducted into the first cohort of SPR Fellows in 2013. In 2017 she received the Prevention Science award given for leadership and promoting positive public health impacts.