Fostering Healthy Futures® for Teens

Promoting Positive Youth Development and Adolescent Outcomes

Our Partnership

To reduce negative adolescent outcomes in teens with child welfare involvement, professor Heather Taussig of DU joined with faculty from Metropolitan State University and community partners in the Fostering Healthy Futures® for Teens program. This rigorous study paired graduate student mentors with eighth- and ninth-graders to foster well-being in the five REACH Domains: relationships, education, activities, career and health.

About Our Research

We leverage cross-institutional collaboration to address some of today’s most pressing challenges, producing interdisciplinary solutions that influence policymakers to effectively serve the public good. From Stanford to UChicago to NYU, we’ve refined our collaborative process through years of mutually beneficial relationships with institutions nationwide to understand and address challenges like climate change, HIV and youth homelessness.

DU’s current research efforts have been featured in news outlets like The New York Times. They include…

  • exploring the effects of felony disenfranchisement.
  • employing lasers as the medium for quantum science.
  • using theatre to heal and rehabilitate inmates.

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About this Project

The Fostering Healthy Futures® for Teens program was a controlled study testing the positive effects of intentional mentorship. Mentors were graduate students in social work and psychology who engaged one-on-one with teens in their communities to promote positive youth development.

The five REACH domains focus on improvement of teens' emotion recognition, perspective-taking, problem solving, effective communication skills, anger management, healthy coping mechanisms, positive relationship development and resistance to peer pressure for deviant activities. Examining short- and long-term outcomes, this study sought to reduce adverse adolescent outcomes across multiple systems (e.g. juvenile justice, mental health and education).

Among regional and state Human Services offices, Fostering Healthy Futures® for Teens also partners with Newman University, Mentor Colorado and the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Discover Research at DU

Heather Taussig

A professor at the DU's Graduate School of Social Work, Heather Taussig specializes in child welfare with a specific focus on prevention and education strategies designed for children who have experienced neglect or abuse. She has also conducted research into adolescent risk behaviors, dating violence, youth mentoring and child welfare systems, aiming to develop new interventions that nurture the strengths of at-risk young people to help foster positive, healthy futures. She recently launched a new study into ecological factors and juvenile justice, with funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.