Over 20,000 mostly ethnic/racial minority delinquent youth are incarcerated annually through the Los Angeles (LA) County juvenile probation system. Formerly incarcerated delinquent youth face major challenges to achieving successful, healthy developmental trajectories when transitioning back to the community. Many have repeat contact with the juvenile or adult justice system within a few years of release. This application examines the efficacy of a family-based intervention to improve the reentry of formeriy incarcerated delinquent youth by reducing substance abuse, other HIV risk behaviors and psychiatric disorders, and improving family functioning. Family involvement and support are often attenuated for many incarcerated youth. Family support, including providing a structured family environment and attending to their children's educational, physical health and mental health needs is vital to keeping reentry delinquent youth on track. Efforts to enhance family support and functioning for reentry delinquent youth through the juvenile justice system are limited. Family interventions have been shown to decrease severity of mental health symptoms and prevent delinquent behaviors of adolescents. This research team has successfully developed and implemented a brief five session family intervention for homeless youth and their parents/guardians called STRIVE (Support To Reunite, Involve and Value Each Other). STRIVE has been efficacious in a RCT in reducing substance abuse, sexual risk and delinquency. It will be adapted and implemented to reduce psychiatric morbidity and improve family functioning for delinquent youth newly released from incarceration in two phases: 1) Adaption of STRIVE for reentry delinquent youth and their parents/guardians;2) An RCT of STRIVE with 400 youth and their parents/guardians upon reentry from incarceration. Participants will complete the baseline and then be randomized to the STRIVE intervention condition or treatment as usual and assessed at 3, 6 &12 months.
Aims are to: 1. Examine the efficacy of STRIVE to reduce psychiatric symptoms and behavior disorders (delinquency, disruptive and conduct problems), reduce key HIV risk behaviors (substance use, sexual risk acts), and reduce recidivism. 2. Examine the effect of STRIVE on youth's and parent's conflict resolution, positive interactions, problem solving and coping;and clarifying the role of families as delinquent youth reenter. 3. Examine whether improvements in the mediating family functioning factors will improve primary outcomes described in Aim 1. 4. Explore whether STRIVE improves utilization of health &mental health services.
This project will intervene with juvenile delinquents who are reentering the community and will attempt to improve behavioral and health outcomes. This is a problem of enormous importance in minority populations. An intervention of a scale that could be widely applied has the potential to have an important impact on health.
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