Year: 2023 Source: Children and Youth Services Review. (2023). 152, 107051. SIEC No: 20231562
Introduction Sources of Strength is a universal prevention program for youth that provides tools and educational opportunities to promote wellness and reduce risk. A major aim of Sources is to build youth-adult relationships to support youth in times of distress. However, no study to date has investigated how adults effectively build relationships with youth despite this being critical to successful implementation of Sources. The present study explores both student and staff perspectives of what characteristics, skills, and approaches encourage the development of supportive student-adult relationships to inform efforts for successful intervention implementation. Methods This qualitative supplement to a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) of Sources, recruited 23 students in grades 9 to 12 for individual interviews and 11 staff members for focus groups from 2 high schools implementing the intervention. Semi-structured interview guides were used, and emergent themes were identified through process and pattern coding. Results Key facilitators of supportive and effective adult-youth relationships included perceptions of adults as approachable, caring, encouraging, and understanding. Successful adult advisors used humor and were perceived as invested and engaged in the lives of youth. Maintaining accountability for youth, balanced with intervention and provision of resources additionally emerged as a critical factor supporting positive relationships with youth. Sources itself emerged as a catalyst for the growth of these positive and supportive youth-adult relationships. Conclusions Trusted adults are instrumental as both operators within prevention programs targeting young people and as facilitators in adult-youth relationships through leveraging key skills and approaches. These findings can inform quality implementation of interventions, like Sources, that embed adult-youth connections as a central feature of the program model.