The Evidence Portal


About the program

TAKE CHARGE is a weekly mentoring program designed to foster self-efficacy and self-determination. It is delivered in one-on-one and group workshop settings. Mentees identify goals that are important to them in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. They work alongside mentors to develop the skills necessary to pursue their goals independently. Mentors use didactic, experiential and relationship building activities to build mentee's capacity for achievement, partnership development and self-regulation.

TAKE CHARGE was developed for foster children transitioning out of care into adulthood and independence.

TAKE CHARGE is designed to be delivered in a flexible manner where mentors are responsive to the complex needs of the mentee cohort. Instead of a set curriculum, mentors are trained to recognise learning and practice moments in the course of their mentoring relationships.

Who does it work for?

TAKE CHARGE is designed for youth aged 16-17 transitioning out of foster care into adulthood. 

TAKE CHARGE has only been evaluted in the USA (Blakeslee & Keller, 2018). A randomised controlled trial was conducted with 158 people (81 in the control group and 77 in the intervention group). On average, participants were 17 years old. The majority of the sample were White (43.8%). and over half received special education services in high school due to an identified disability.

TAKE CHARGE has not been evaluated in Australia or with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities. It has also not been evaluated with culturally and linguistically diverse populations in Australia.

What outcomes does it contribute to?

TAKE CHARGE participants as compared with control group participants experienced the following outcomes:

Positive outcomes:

  • Reduced criminal justice involvement 24 months after the program finished
  • Reduced chance of days spent incacerated, on parole or probation (especially for males)
  • Increase in self-efficacy over time (e.g. independent living, post-secondary participation and career preparation)

No effect:

  • Arrests and convictions
  • Trouble with the law and running away
  • Self-reported delinquent behaviour
  • Self-reported violence (e.g. stabbing, shooting)

Negative outcomes:

  • No negative effects were found

How effective is it?

Overall, the program had a mixed effect on client outcomes.

How strong is the evidence?

Mixed research evidence (with no adverse effets

  • At least one high-quality randomised controlled trial (RCT)/quasi-experimental design (QED) study reports statistically significant positive effects for at least one outcome, AND
  • An equal number or more RCT/QED studies of similar size and quality show no observed effects than show statistically significant positive effects, AND
  • No RCT/QED studies show statistically significant adverse effects.

How is it implemented?

TAKE CHARGE consists of individual and group mentoring.

Individualised mentoring

  • Youth meet weekly with their mentors for 60-90 minutes
  • Meetings are during unscheduled class periods, before or after school, in the events or on weekends.
  • The meetings are used to help youth learn to:
    • Set goals, make decisions and problem solve
    • Develop partnerships and negotiation
    • Self-regulate: think positive, focus on accomplishments and deal with stress.
  • Mentors help youth develop these skills by:
    • rehearsing strategies (e.g. role-playing important conversations)
    • practicing activities needed for goal achievement (e.g. making a phone call to request information)
    •  recognising and celebrating progress
    • challenging mentees to take action
  • In general, during the course of program, the mentor is expected to engage with the youth in didactic, experiential and relationship-building activities.

As the mentee's confidence and competence grows over time, the mentor steps back to enable greater independence. At the end of the program, the mentee will have developed a transition plan to share with important people in their life.

Group mentoring

  • All mentees are expected to participate in at least 4 group mentoring workshops.
  • Workshops are offered frequently throughout the year and participants are encourage to attend as many as possible.
  • Youth identify transition topics for the workshops (e.g. employment, postsecondary education, exiting foster care, leading a transition meeting).

Workshop mentors are young adults who were previously in foster care and have successfully transitioned out.

How much does it cost?

To deliver TAKE CHARGE to 50 particpants, Blakeslee & Keller (2018) estimate a total cost of approximately US $395 000, equivalent to AUD $512 400 over one year. The breakdown of costs provided in AUD* include the following:

  • 4 x full time staff at $332 023 per year
  • 1 x full time supervisor at $80,383 per year
  • 3 x interns / students for free
  • My Life model start-up training and certification at $12,961
  • Expenditures and supplies for youth for workshops and coaching at $155 per participant
  • $7782 miscallaneous supplies and cash expenditures.

*All conversions made using XE Converter online in March 2021.

What else should I consider?

Individual mentors may be project staff or Masters of Social Work students. Each mentor undergoes a three-day training session. They also participate in weekly group and individual supervisions to ensure that the program expectations are being met.

Mentors are also required to film at least 6 sessions with a mentee. These recordings are used to monitor and evaluate the mentors work with the mentee.

Group mentors complete an application and interview. They then undergo training to prepare them for the workshops.

The benefits of the TAKE CHARGE program for preventing days in jail amount to three times the total cost of running the program (Blakeslee & Keller, 2018).

Where does the evidence come from?

1 RCT conducted in the USA with a sample of 158 people (Blakeslee & Keller, 2018). This study extends the research from 2 previous studies which extends research from 2 previous studies (Powers et. Al, 2012; Greenen et. Al, 2013).

Further resources

For the extended trial of the 2 original My Life programs see: Blakeslee, J. E. & Keller, T. E. (2018). Extending a Randomized Trial of the My Life Mentoring Model for Youth in Foster Care to Evaluate Long-Term Effects on Offending in Young Adulthood. National Criminal Justice Reference Service

Original RCT of My Life model with 69 person sample: Powers, LE, Geenen, S, Powers, J, Pommier-Satya, S, Turner, A, Dalton, LD., Drummond, D & Swank, P 2012, ‘My Life: Effects of a longitudinal, randomized study of self-determination enhancement on the transition outcomes of youth in foster care and special education’, Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 34, no. 11, pp. 2179–2187, viewed 20 February, DOI 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.07.018

Original RCT of My Life model with 123 person sample: Geenen, S, Powers, LE, Powers, J, Cunningham, M, McMahon, L, Nelson, M, Dalton, LD, Swank, P & Fullerton, A 2013, ‘Experimental Study of a Self-Determination Intervention for Youth in Foster Care’, Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 84–95, viewed 19 February, 2021

Last updated:

16 Feb 2022

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