In MTFC, teens are highly supervised by foster-care parents, who are provided with ongoing consultation, support and crisis intervention services from program supervisors.
"One of the most interesting aspects of this research is that the MTFC program was created to reduce crime, not pregnancy," Kerr said. "It specifically targeted changing the girl's environment: her home, her peers and her school experience. The focus was on giving her lots of supervision, support for responsible behavior, and consistent, non-harsh consequences for negative behavior. And this worked to reduce pregnancy rates."
There are 51 of these specialized foster care programs in the United States and Canada, 41 in Europe and one in New Zealand.
While caring for teens in group homes costs $7,000 a year less than specialized foster care programs, an independent analysis of teen boys showed that reductions in criminal activity among teens in the specialized programs costs taxpayers and crime victims $78,000 less per teen in the long term.
"The figures aren't available for girls yet, but delaying unintended pregnancies should add to that savings," Kerr said. "But aside from the economics, the real plus is helping a high-risk teen grow up some more before she takes on that important job of motherhood. That's good for everyone."
For more on Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, visit the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy.
-- Jennifer Thomas
SOURCE: Oregon State University, news release, June 2009
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