• September 2004
  • Vol. 5, No. 7

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Therapeutic Foster Care Prevents Youth Violence

Program-intensive therapeutic foster care can prevent violent behavior among chronically delinquent youth, ages 12 to 18, who are at risk of committing violent acts, according to a recent report by The Task Force on Community Preventive Services.

The Task Force examined experimental studies published prior to December 2001 on two types of therapeutic foster care:

  • Cluster therapeutic foster care--Clusters of foster parent families cooperate in the care of children ages 5 to 13 with severe emotional disturbance.
  • Program-intensive therapeutic foster care--Program staff collaborate closely and daily with foster families caring for chronically delinquent adolescents, ages 12 to 18.

The Task Force found that program-intensive therapeutic foster care reduces the number of arrests, the rates of incarceration, and days of incarceration. On the other hand, they concluded that current research regarding the effectiveness of cluster therapeutic foster care is inconclusive and that more studies are needed.

The report recommends that communities that are considering implementing or expanding program-intensive therapeutic foster care services consider these results in the context of local data, such as the number of chronically delinquent juveniles exhibiting violent behavior in the community and the availability of resources to implement these services.

This report is part of a series of topics included in the Guide to Community Preventive Services, a product of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with public and private partners. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide staff support to the Task Force.

The report is available on the CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5310a1.htm. Information about the Guide to Community Preventive Services is available at http://www.thecommunityguide.org/index.html

Related item

For more information on outcomes for youth in therapeutic foster care, see the 1999 Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/chapter3/sec7_1.html

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