Peer Relations and Delinquency Among Girls in Foster Care Following a Skill-Building Preventive Intervention

Child Maltreat. 2020 May 14;1077559520923033. doi: 10.1177/1077559520923033. Online ahead of print.


There is evidence that risk for delinquency is elevated among girls with foster care histories, and one correlate of delinquency is affiliating with peers who engage in delinquent behavior. Although intervention studies have shown positive effects of interventions that target delinquent peer affiliation on reductions in delinquency among adolescents with juvenile justice histories, the success of such interventions for younger girls in foster care, without prior involvement with juvenile justice, is unknown. We analyzed data from a randomized clinical trial of the middle school version of the Keep Safe intervention in a sample of girls in foster care (n = 100). The intervention was delivered to girls and foster parents during the transition to middle school. Path analysis suggested a significant intervention effect on reduction in affiliation with delinquent peers at 12 months (B = -.21). No significant mediation effects were identified. The middle school Keep Safe intervention shows promise as a preventative intervention for reducing affiliation with delinquent peers, which importantly is associated with adolescent delinquent behavior. Implications for researchers and professionals who tailor and deliver evidence-based programs for girls in foster care are discussed.

Keywords: delinquency; foster care; girls; intervention; maltreatment; peers.