Title

A case study of the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families' One-on-One Mentor program for youth aging out of foster care

Date of Completion

January 2005

Keywords

Social Work|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Adolescents who have experienced foster care, particularly those who have had multiple placements, are at increased risk for academic failure, long-term mental health problems, homelessness, incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse/use, and unintended pregnancy. Child welfare programs increasingly are moving away from deficit-based models of intervention, and focusing more on strength-based prevention models, such as mentoring, to foster healthy developmental outcomes for youth in foster care. Although mentoring programs are well received as support services, mentoring as a component of independent living services to meet the specific developmental needs of older youth in out-of-home care has emerged only recently. In 1998 the Connecticut Department of Children and Families implemented the One-on-One Mentor program for adolescents who are "aging out" of the foster care system. This dissertation, one of the first comprehensive case studies on the topic of mentoring and foster youth, presents a case study of the One-on-One Mentor Program. ^ Data were collected through a comprehensive review of program contracts, notes from meetings, and interviews with key program personnel. A Youth Questionnaire, which included standard measures of functioning and a survey of satisfaction, was used to capture descriptive data about the behaviors, attitudes, and experiences of youth who participated in the program. Additional data to assess staff satisfaction with the match were collected from Match Intake and Update forms. ^ The case study begins with a comprehensive timeline and summary of the historical development of the One-on-One Mentor Program from its inception in 1988 until 2002. Next, the study describes and evaluates the implementation of the program components, including recruitment, screening, and matching. Overall, most aspects of the program design were strong, however, several issues related to program implementation and evaluation emerged. For example, programs did not formally evaluate services. Results from the Youth Questionnaires suggested that youth who participated in the One-on-One Mentor Program were benefiting, at least socially, from their mentoring relationships. ^ Recommendations for policies and procedures for developing mentoring programs to meet the specific risks and needs of foster youth as they transition to adulthood are presented. ^