Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2004, $100,000)
Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) is an evidence-based treatment for delinquency that is an alternative to residential, group, or institutional care. In MTFC youth are placed singly with community foster families, who are trained and supervised to provide youth with close supervision, positive reinforcement, mentoring, and consistent discipline. There is a strong emphasis on increasing youth skills for relating to prosocial peers, living as part of a family, and participating in positive community activities. As part of MTFC, youth participate in behaviorally-oriented individual and family therapy (with biological parents or other aftercare parenting resource).
The proposed study builds on an existing controlled evaluation using random assignment to MTFC or 'usual care' currently being conducted by the New York Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). The aim of that study is to test whether the implementation of MTFC in the Bronx improves services for adolescent girls in need of placement due to problems with delinquency. The proposed study adds a multi-modal assessment of the fidelity of the MTFC implementation to the OCFS study and examines barriers to the transferability of MTFC into a large, diverse urban setting. All girls are being assessed at baseline by OCFS as part of standard intake practice, and they will be subsequently followed up by OCFS using their State juvenile justice information tracking system (any subsequent arrests, incarcerations, and out-of-home placements). The proposed study will examine program fidelity with weekly ratings made on the implementation of key program practices for each girl. In addition, to examine barriers to transferability and adaptations made to the model, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with program implementers (treatment staff, administrators, and foster parents) in the Bronx. It is hypothesized that arrest and placement outcomes for girls will be better for MTFC youth than for those receiving other available services (i.e. control group girls). Within the MTFC condition, girls are expected to have more positive outcomes to the extent that they receive high fidelity of MTFC program practices. Girl's initial characteristics are expected to predict their subsequent arrest outcomes and MTFC fidelity.