Intensive fostering: an independent evaluation of MTFC in an English setting

N Biehal, S Ellison, I Sinclair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents the results of an independent evaluation of the Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) programme for young offenders in England, where it is known as Intensive Fostering (IF).

Methods: A quasi-experimental, mixed methods study was carried out at the three pilot sites, with a total sample of 47 at follow up. Young people sentenced to IF were compared to a similar group, matched on the eligibility criteria for IF, the majority of whom were sentenced to custody. The groups were well-matched in terms of their characteristics and criminal histories. Official data on reconviction were collected at baseline and one year after entry to the IF placement or release from custody (Stage 1), and further data on programme completion and secondary outcomes were collected via interviews with young people and parents and questionnaires to professionals at baseline and follow up. Official data on reconviction were also collected one year after exit from the IF placements (Stage 2).

Results: At Stage 1 the IF group were less likely to be reconvicted, had committed fewer and less serious recorded offences, on average, and took longer to commit their first recorded offence. At this point the IF group were more likely to be living with their families and less likely to be in custody than the comparison group. However by Stage 2 no significant differences in patterns of reconviction remained.

Conclusions: IF successfully contained a high-risk group in the community, but the effects of the intervention washed out once they left their foster placements. Environmental effects on entry to and exit from the IF placements may help to explain the results at both stages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2043-2049
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • social work issues
  • looked after children
  • fostering
  • Treatment Outcome

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