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December/January 2023Vol. 23, No. 10Meta-Analysis Examines Effectiveness of Mentoring Programs for Youth in Foster Care

An article published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence presents findings from a study examining whether mentoring programs are effective for youth involved in foster care. Using a meta-analytic approach, the study assessed the effectiveness of nine formal mentoring programs in the United States.


Previous research suggests that mentoring programs may promote a variety of positive outcomes in youth populations. However, there is limited research on the impact of these programs for youth in foster care. The purpose of the study was to examine the overall effectiveness of the nine mentoring programs for youth in care as well as the extent to which the effectiveness varies as a function of mentor and youth characteristics and outcomes.


The mentoring programs included in the study varied in format and structure (e.g., offering mentoring as the sole intervention vs. offering mentoring in conjunction with other interventions, one-to-one format vs. group format). Program outcomes (including mental well-being, academics and career, externalizing and behavioral problems, service utilization, and social competencies) were used to assess the effectiveness of the programs.


The following are key findings from the evaluation:


  • Most programs had a small-to-medium effect.
  • Smaller effects were found in programs with higher proportions of youth with emotional abuse histories.
  • Near-peer mentors (mentors close in age to mentees) were more than twice as effective as intergenerational mentors.


The results highlight the potential benefits of mentoring programs for youth in care as well as implications for future research and practice. This includes the need for additional research on near-peer mentoring interventions and the importance of training related to emotional attunement and trauma-informed mentoring practices.


More information is available in the article, “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Mentoring on Youth in Foster Care.”