Last updated on May 2018

Increasing Caregiver Engagement in Juvenile Drug Courts


Brief description of study

The purpose of this study is to test a prize-based contingency management intervention for increasing caregiver engagement in juvenile drug court and adolescent drug treatment, and for achieving the ultimate outcomes of reduced substance use and delinquent behavior among drug court-involved youth.

Detailed Study Description

Juvenile offenders with substance abuse problems represent a large and underserved population that is at high risk of deleterious outcomes and long-term costs for themselves, their families, communities, and society. Moreover, a high percentage of substance abusing adolescents continue to abuse substances and engage in criminal activity into adulthood. Although one juvenile justice intervention, Juvenile Drug Court (JDC), has emerged as a promising model for reducing drug use and delinquency among youth, its effectiveness is variable. Drug court outcomes may be compromised by the lack of caregiver engagement in JDC processes and adolescent drug treatment. Incorporating easily implemented evidence-based incentive programs in JDCs might improve their effectiveness in reducing youth drug use and re-offending. An extensive body of research supports the critical role that families play in the etiology, maintenance, and treatment of adolescent substance abuse. Although family-based interventions for adolescent substance abuse have been shown to be superior to other treatment modalities, parents must attend treatment and participate in meaningful ways for these superior outcomes to be realized. This randomized clinical trial will examine the efficacy of a prize-based contingency management intervention for increasing caregiver engagement (attendance and participation) in JDC and adolescent drug treatment. This caregiver contingency management intervention (CCM) will be compared with drug court treatment as usual (TAU). Increased caregiver participation is predicted to improve adolescent outcomes (decreased drug use and delinquent behavior). One hundred and eighty youth enrolled in JDC will be randomly assigned along with a parent/caregiver to TAU or CCM. Analyses will examine measures of caregiver engagement in JDC as well as youth substance use (urine drug screens) and delinquent activity. Results from this study will demonstrate the effectiveness of CCM procedures for increasing caregiver attendance and participation in JDC and adolescent drug treatment above and beyond drug court and usual care. If effective, the CCM approach may ultimately be used to enhance JDC outcomes, thereby reducing substance use and recidivism in juvenile offenders served by this promising juvenile justice intervention.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03051997

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Phillippe Cunningham, Ph.D.

436th Juvenile District Court
San Antonio, TX United States
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