The Family Services Agency, Inc. (FSAI) has formed a partnership with the Housing
Opportunities Commission (HOC) to provide Project Youth Connect (PYC) mentoring advocacy intervention services to 102 male and female youth ages 9-11 and their families who are residents
of public/subsidized housing suburban Montgomery County, Maryland. Both partners have extensive experience in working with low-income, multiethnic youth and families and providing
interventions for youth and families at high-risk for substance abuse. They have significant
linkages to public and private service providers. The staff of both agencies are ethnically and culturally diverse. This partnership means that FSAI, the lead agency, has access to a large pool
of comparable youth and families for both the treatment and comparison groups. In addition, HOC currently operates many programs for youth and their families including recreation, tutoring
(GED, ESOL job training and tutoring in four centrally located Family Resource Centers. (FRC)
Thus, PYC will be able to integrate these important program components into the prevention services delivery. Family Times, one-one-one activities, support groups, educational and recreational activities will take place at HOC sites. Both agencies also have extensive relationships with area churches and will recruit volunteers from their congregations to extend mentor/advocacy services with the youth the families following Cycle I of the grant. It is hoped these volunteers will make commitments to continue the intervention after the funding ends.
Seventy-five percent of the children and families to be served are members of minority groups. Sixty-three percent are African-American and 13% are Latino/Hispanic. The
mentoring/advocacy approach has for these groups and to build resiliency and produce important research findings. Mentoring addresses the reduced accessibility to successful role models in the African-American community, and acculturation stresses and the need for Latino parents to hold multiple jobs and often deprive Latino/American children of critical support and guidance.
The proposed study will utilize a classic experimental design with control group and randomized assignment As mandated, a three cohort sequential design will examine program cohorts over three years of program services. IN order to maximize statistical power and focus interventions on a specific developmental period, only families with you ages 9-l1 years old will be included. Using this approach, each cohort will begin the program at the same developmental level, enabling a more power analysis of the effects of the interventions in each cycle. The research design will take advantage of the timing of the different cohorts throughout the year (summer versus school year). Zane et al. (1998) found significant differences in program outcomes due to administration during the summer and the school year. Financial incentives will be offered to the potential comparison group children and families participating in the evaluation.