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Current Projects

​​​The TRC® is involved in research projects that range from simple data requests to multi-year research projects. The projects listed here cover an extended time period and are focused on supporting the implementation of the Boys Town Integrated Continuum of Care SM.

Click here to request additional information on about current research projects.

  • On The Way Home Aftercare

    On the Way Home (OTWH) provides youth and their families with parent training, using Boys Town's Common Sense Parenting ® program, as well as school and homework supports to promote a positive transition out of residential care. An OTWH consultant coordinates these efforts by working with Family-Teachers ® and parents before, during, and after this transition. Developing a strong transitional program will help ensure that the gains made by our youth while in our care will be sustained long after they leave Boys Town.

    A randomized pilot study of OTWH was completed recently. Results indicated that, compared to the control group, youth were 3 times more likely to stay at home or in a home-like setting and were 5 times more likely to remain engaged in or graduate from their community school.

    Due to these positive initial findings, UNL and Boys Town have received additional research funding through the Institute of Educational Sciences to conduct a larger efficacy and implementation trial of the On the Way Home program.

    Note: Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. Primary Investigator: Alex Trout, UNL.

  • Common Sense Parenting Tacoma, Washington Study

    This project is a randomized clinical trial evaluating Common Sense Parenting (CSP) in its standard format (6 sessions) and in an expanded format (CSP Plus), which includes two additional sessions that involve parents with their children. Interventions were targeted toward families of 8th grade students in poor-performing middle schools in the Tacoma, WA Public School District. One of the goals of this study is to facilitate a successful transition to high school for these students. A total of 320 families were recruited and pre- and post-assessments have been completed, with 1- and 2-year follow-ups planned.

    Initial results indicate that the programs were delivered with fidelity. Currently, pre-post outcome analyses are underway. Findings from this rigorous trial will help build the evidence base for CSP, as well as provide information about the value of adapting CSP for parents of adolescents transitioning to high school.

    Note: Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Primary investigator: Alex Mason, Boys Town.

  • In-Home Family Services

    The Nebraska Families Study is a randomized clinical trial of Boys Town In-Home Family Services ® among a sample of families who are at-risk for becoming involved in Child Welfare Services. The trial began in August 2012, using the Nebraska Family Helpline as a vehicle for recruiting families. Our goal is to obtain a sample of 320 families over 3 years. Assessments are occurring at pretest, posttest, 6-month follow-up, and 12-month follow-up along with implementation fidelity observations collected throughout services.

    Findings from this randomized efficacy trial will help build the evidence base for In-Home Family Services by allowing us to systematically compare the outcomes of families facing similar issues who received services to those families who did not.

    Note: Funded by Boys Town. Primary investigator: Kristin Duppong Hurley, UNL.

  • Parent Connectors

    Parent Connectors is a school-based intervention developed to provide support for families of youth with emotional-behavioral disorders who are involved in special education. The intervention uses weekly phone calls with a trained parent who also has a child with these same types of issues. These trained parents encourage participants to engage in their child's school, mental health services, and the family's informal support network, with the goal of improving the academic and mental health outcomes of these youth.

    Previous research has shown that parent support programs can increase self-efficacy and empowerment of families, as well as help to lower a caregiver's mental health issues and stress. Two pilot studies have demonstrated positive results, as has a feasibility study using Parent Connectors in the day school on Boys Town's Home Campus. Most recently, a four year grant has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to evaluate Parent Connectors. This study will evaluate the program's effectiveness with a randomized control trial involving about 250 families of middle school students in the Lincoln and Omaha areas who have Individualized Education Programs for emotional or behavioral needs. This study is intended to increase family engagement by empowering parents to become more involved in their child's psycho-educational interventions.

    Note: Parent Connectors developers are Krista Kutash and Al Duchnowski, University of South Florida.

  • Health Research

    Studies have shown that at-risk youth have general health problems in addition to psychological risks. Therefore, intervention programs need to address both sets of needs in an integrated fashion. To begin this line of research, Boys Town partnered with researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Findings from initial studies of youth enrolled in family-style residential care at Boys Town indicate that: 1) approximately one-third of these youth had chronic general health problems; 2) youth with internalizing behavior problems (e.g., anxiety, withdrawal) were associated with greater risk for medical problems, more prescription (non-psychotropic) medications, and higher rates of health care services utilization; and 3) poorer physical health status at intake was associated with poorer treatment outcomes.

    In collaboration with the new Center for Neurobehavioral Research at the Boys Town National Research Hospital ®, we will participate in a new study to explore and address some of the most common health issues among youth at Boys Town. Specifically, research and program staff plan to develop and test an obesity prevention program for youth in residential care. Furthermore, we will attempt to integrate this line of research with related Health Care/Youth Care efforts, particularly those focusing on psychotropic medication utilization and other neurobehavioral research.

    Note: Primary investigators: Tim Nelson, UNL; Kayla Pope, Boys Town

  • Dissemination and Implementation Research

    A growing program of research at Boys Town is focusing on key issues in the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based programs. The Implementation and Mental Health Outcomes Study (IMHOS) examines the relationship between quality of program implementation and therapeutic process factors (e.​g., relationship between treatment providers) to treatment outcomes of youth in the Boys Town Family Home Program SM. Findings have shown, for example, that youth reports of implementation quality have particularly strong associations with outcomes. Additional examinations of implementation fidelity in ongoing randomized trials are being conducted, and economic analyses to determine the benefit-cost ratio and cost-effectiveness of evidence-based programs are underway. Future studies are planned, including tests of strategies to increase engagement in services and to maximize community impact.

    Note: The IMHOS was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. Primary Investigator: Kristin Duppong Hurley, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.