About the Project

DREAMR ProjectThe Determined, Responsible, and Empowered Adolescents Mentoring Relationships (DREAMR) Project is a federal demonstration study funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Children’s Bureau and administered by the Clark County Department of Family Services (DFS). The DREAMR Project seeks to determine the effectiveness of a unique, seven-component service approach aimed at preventing pregnancy among foster youth and helping them develop positive, healthy, and supportive relationships. This comprehensive service approach consists of the following elements:

  • A peer mentor who will work with the youth for one year;
  • Pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease prevention courses conducted by the Southern Nevada Health District;
  • Training for the youth’s caregiver (e.g., foster parent, relative) on increasing his or her ability to talk to the youth about how to create healthy relationships with positive and supportive people and how to avoid pregnancy;
  • Training for the youth’s caseworker on increasing his or her ability to talk to the youth about how to create healthy relationships with positive and supportive people and how to avoid pregnancy;
  • A casework approach called 3-5-7 designed to help the youth think about his or her past and become emotionally stronger by sorting out his or her experiences;
  • A “smart phone” that will be issued to the youth to allow him or her to keep track of program components and stay in communication with his or her mentor, caseworker, and service providers (the “smart phone” is the youth’s to keep, but when his or her time in the project ends he or she will have to get a carrier and pay the required service fees); and
  • A nurturing parenting program designed to teach youth about how to be a better parent, how to care for a baby or young child, and how to create a safe environment for babies and children (this part of the program is only for those foster youth who are pregnant or are already parenting).

The DREAMR project is open to both females and males. An individual is eligible for the DREAMR Project if he or she is aged 12 to 21 and a current or former foster youth under the care of the DFS. Youth in that age group who are already pregnant or parenting are eligible for the project unless they have been told to restrict physical activity while pregnant.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the new approach, the DREAMR Project seeks youth participation in both the treatment and control groups for the study. Youth who are not already pregnant or parenting are subject to random assignment to the treatment and control groups, and so every youth referred to the study will not actually be selected for participation. During the three-year implementation phase of the DREAMR Project, 200 youth from the DFS’s North and Central geographic zones who are not already pregnant or parenting will be randomly selected for participation in the treatment group while another 200 youth from the DFS’s West and South geographic zones who are not already pregnant or parenting will be randomly selected for participation in the control group. The control group youth will not receive the services listed above; instead, they will continue to receive the standard services in which they are currently enrolled at the DFS. Youth selected to participate in the control group will receive incentives in the form of gift cards to popular department stores and restaurants. For the part of the study involving youth who are already pregnant or parenting, a randomized experimental design is not being implemented and all eligible youth will be automatically enrolled and eligible for the above services.

Participating youth will be interviewed by researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) three times over the course of a year:  within the first thirty days of the youth’s enrollment into the DREAMR Project; six months after the youth has been in the project; and twelve months after the youth has been in the project.

If you have any questions about the DREAMR Project, to volunteer, or to learn more, please contact:

Ramona W. Denby-Brinson, Ph.D.
Senior Resident Scholar, at the Lincy Institute, Professor

Greenspun College of Urban Affairs School of Social Work
University of Nevada Las Vegas
4505 Maryland Pkwy., M/S 3067
Las Vegas, NV   89154
(702)895-0099 (office)
(702)895-0100 (fax)
ramona.denby@unlv.edu