Child & Youth Care Forum
Treatment foster care, Group care, Delinquency, Crime, Overview, Meta-analysis
Background: Evidence of treatment foster care (TFC) and group care’s (GC) potential to prevent delinquency and crime has been developing.
Objectives: We clarified the state of comparative knowledge with a historical overview. Then we explored the hypothesis that smaller, probably better resourced group homes with smaller staff/resident ratios have greater impacts than larger homes with a meta-analytic update.
Methods: Research literatures were searched to 2015. Five systematic reviews were selected that included seven independent studies that compared delinquency or crime outcomes among youths ages 10–18. A similar search augmented by author and bibliographic searches identified six additional studies with an updated meta-analysis. Discrete effects were analyzed with sample-weighted preventive fractions (PF) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI).
Results: Compared with GC, TFC was estimated to prevent nearly half of delinquent or criminal acts over 1–3 years (PF = 0.56, 95 % CI 0.50, 0.64). Two pooled study outcomes tentatively suggested that GC in homes with less than ten youths may prevent delinquency and crime better than TFC, p = 0.08. Study designs were non-equivalent or randomized trials that were typically too small to ensure controlled comparisons.
Conclusions: These synthetic findings are best thought of as preliminary hypotheses. Confident knowledge will require their testing with large, perhaps multisite, controlled trials. Such a research agenda will undoubtedly be quite expensive, but it holds the promise of knowledge dividends that could prevention much suffering among youths, their families and society.
Osei, Gershon K.; Gorey, Kevin M.; and Hernandez Jozefowicz, Debra M.. (2015). Delinquency and Crime Prevention: Overview of Research Comparing Treatment Foster Care and Group Care. Child & Youth Care Forum.
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