The specialized foster care program places the teen in a highly supervised foster parent setting. The state-certified foster parent or parents have been given additional training on how to work with high-risk youth, and were 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."
According to Kerr, each girl and her caregiver were interviewed one and two years into the study. The greater reductions in teen pregnancy, as well as reductions in criminal activity and arrests and increases in school engagement, were found in the group that was assigned to receive the specialized Treatment Foster Care services.
Currently there are 51 of these specialized foster care programs in the US and Canada, 41 in Europe and 1 in New Zealand. New program sites are being trained and certified each year by Eugene-based TFC Consultants, Inc.
The standard group care approach to treating a juvenile justice case costs $7,000 less than using the specialized Treatment Foster Care in the short-term. However, Kerr said that an independent analysis of teen boys showed that the dramatic reductions in criminal activity among teens in the specialized program 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. But aside from the economics," he s
|Contact: David Kerr|
Oregon State University