Methods. This study used an experimental intent-to-treat design to test the effectiveness of enhanced services. The sample included 185 youth (response rate, 78% of eligible youth) age 17.5-20 years who were served by four participating agencies. Youth were predominantly female (65%) and African American (83%). Randomization to the control and enhanced services groups occurred after youth enrollment and completion of a baseline interview, and youth were not required to participate in any services to participate in the study. Intervention services included a supported mentoring program and a flexibly administered job readiness program. In-person youth interviews were conducted at baseline and a year later to assess effects on delinquency and employment using standardized measures. Differences in delinquency rates and hours employed at the one-year follow up were examined using bivariate and multivariate (logistic and Poisson regression) analyses.
Results. A significant decrease in delinquency scores was reported in the enhanced services group at follow up relative to the control group and a striking difference in arrest rates was reported, with 4.2% of intervention group youth and 20.3% of control youth reporting an arrest in the last 12 months (ps < .05 for both). Regression results also indicate a significant effect for the enhanced services group on delinquency scores and arrests at follow up. While rates of employment were not significantly higher in the enhanced services group (47% vs. 33% working, p = .09), hours worked per week was significantly higher in the enhanced group (p < .05).
Implications. This study sought to improve behavioral (delinquency and arrest rates) and employment outcomes by providing enhanced opportunities for supportive relationships with adults and job readiness training. Outcomes at one year follow up indicate that the enhanced services were effective in decreasing rates of delinquency and arrest as well as increasing hours worked per week. These results support continued development of service models emphasizing increased outreach and support to youth and flexible provision of mentoring and job readiness training services.