Date of Graduation

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Alex R. Dopp

Committee Member

Ellen Leen-Feldner

Second Committee Member

Tim Cavell

Keywords

adolescents, delinquency, economic analysis, mentoring, prevention

Abstract

Youth with certain risk factors (e.g., from a minority group, low-income status, previous contact with the juvenile justice system) are particularly at risk for juvenile delinquency and associated problems (e.g., school failure, mental health problems). In addition, these problems are quite costly to youth, their families, and society as a whole. Mentoring programs have shown modest, but consistent, effects in the prevention and reduction of juvenile delinquency and associated problems. Previous research has identified promising enhancements (i.e., advocacy/teaching roles for mentors, rigorous match processes, comprehensive mentor training, ongoing mentor support) that may increase the effectiveness of mentoring in producing positive outcomes, and it is an important next step to evaluate the costs and benefits of these enhancements to determine their feasibility in community settings. The current study utilizes cost-benefit analysis via the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to analyze results from a national demonstration trial of mentoring that incorporates promising enhancements. Results of the cost-benefit analysis indicated a total benefit (i.e., avoided expense) of -$16 for enhanced mentoring over business as usual mentoring. Results of the cost-benefit analysis indicated a benefit-cost ratio of -0.24, where every dollar spent on enhanced mentoring resulted in a loss of $0.24. Barriers to implementation may have influenced the economic benefit of the current intervention. Policymakers, intervention developers, and stakeholders should consider factors that influence the economic impact of interventions, particularly in diverse community settings when selecting and implementing programs that target juvenile delinquency and its associated problems.

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