The proposed study aims to test a promising strategy for improving vocational and employment outcomes for adolescents with identified substance abuse problems or at high risk for such. These youths are at very high risk for poor long-term outcomes from both personal and societal perspectives. The 6- month employment program, Project CRAFT (Community Restitution Apprenticeship-Focused Training), is designed to train and place high-risk youths in employment within the residential building industry. Importantly, CRAFT is operated by the Home Builders Institute, which is the educational arm of the National Association of Home Builders and has formal linkages with virtually all local building associations across the nation. CRAFT participants are connected with local employers throughout the course of training. This initial test of CRAFT uses existing multisystemic therapy (MST, Henggeler et al., 1998) programs in Connecticut as the platform for the evaluation, which has several advantages at this early stage of validation (e.g., reducing """"""""noise,"""""""" providing integrated services, treating substance use). Specifically, 120 15- to 18-year old adolescents presenting serious antisocial behavior and with identified substance abuse problems or at high risk for such will be randomized to CRAFT versus education as usual (EAU) conditions. In both cases, the therapists, per standard MST protocols, will be supporting the efforts of the vocational instructor (in the CRAFT condition) or school personnel (in the EAU condition) at enhancing youth school and vocational performance. Follow-up will be conducted through 2 years post program completion. This study has three primary aims.
Aim 1 : To evaluate the capacity of CRAFT to improve participant employment and earnings. CRAFT participants are hypothesized to have considerably higher rates of employment (measured by days employed) at a higher hourly wage than their EAU counterparts at posttreatment and follow-up.
Aim 2 : To examine the extent to which CRAFT is associated with decreases in substance use and increases in psychosocial functioning. Participants in both treatment conditions are expected to demonstrate gains in psychosocial functioning during treatment. Because participation in employment is expected to facilitate further improvement in psychosocial outcomes, CRAFT participants are hypothesized to experience additional gains following treatment while EAU participants are hypothesized to only maintain treatment gains.
Aim 3 : To evaluate possible moderators (e.g., criminal history, symptomatology) of CRAFT effects. For participants in the CRAFT condition, dosage effects will also be examined.
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