New evidence shows foster care could reduce delinquency

A new addition to the College’s What Works toolkit explores the impact therapeutic foster care can have on young people.

​New evidence shows that therapeutic foster care can reduce anti-social behaviour.

The evidence comes from one of the many systematic reviews summarised on the College's crime reduction toolkit, designed to provide forces with access to the best available evidence of what works in policing.

The review explored the impact of therapeutic foster care on delinquency and anti-social behaviour outcomes. Therapeutic foster care is provided by foster parents who receive training, in collaboration with teachers and probation officers, to provide a structured environment to promote the learning of prosocial and emotional skills.

Pooled results from the five studies included showed a statistically significant reduction in anti-social behaviour by young people who had experienced therapeutic foster care.

It is believed this effect is down to the positive impact of separating the youths from delinquent peers and providing consistent and predictable forms of discipline and close supervision.

In addition, therapeutic foster care provides structured and supportive parenting for young people whose parents are unable to provide this. Foster carers may also play an important role in socialising young people, teaching them responsible family behaviours and training them to improve school attendance, relations with teachers and peers, and homework performance.

Julia Morris, the College's What Works standards manager, said:

"This is one of dozens of interventions available now on our crime reduction toolkit.

"The College hosts the What Works Centre for crime reduction, which is the foundation of the evidence base in policing.

"We are here to support research and to help officers and staff make informed decisions, including the most effective way to use resources and prevent crime.

"Our research team also hosts design surgeries where forces or academic institutions interested in carrying out studies or trials can come to us for evaluation and advice."

More information about the What Works centre, along with a research map of studies being conducted across the UK, can be found on our website.

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