Background: Child criminal exploitation is a form of child abuse that poses a serious risk to the welfare, safety, and wellbeing of young people. Multisystemic therapy (MST) is an intensive family and community-based intervention for young people with anti-social behavioral problems, many of whom will be at risk of criminal exploitation. This protocol describes a pilot feasibility study and process evaluation, designed to examine MST for children at risk of criminal exploitation. Methods: This pilot feasibility study and process evaluation involves two phases with associated subphases: phase 1.1 involved the collaborative refinement of the logic model adapting MST for children at risk of criminal exploitation; phase 1.2 involved pre-pilot interviews with MST therapists, families, and young people; phase 2.1 is a pilot modeling study of MST for children at risk of criminal exploitation, and; Phase 2.2 is a process evaluation that will involve interviewing stakeholders, MST therapists and employees, families, and young people. The dataset for the process evaluation will include questionnaires completed by parents and young people at baseline, mid-treatment, end of treatment, and 6 months after treatment. We will supplement these data with participant-level data linkage from MST sites and services. Results: Accrual to the pilot stage of this project opened on 6th August 2021 and is due to close on 31st May 2022. We aim to publish the results of this feasibility study and process evaluation in 2023. Conclusions: The results of this feasibility study and process evaluation will inform the decision as to whether it is advisable to progress to a pilot clinical trial of MST for children at risk of criminal exploitation. Trial registration: Trial registration: ISRCTN registry, ISRCTN16164816 on 25th January 2021— https://doi.org/10.1186/ISRCTN16164816 .
- Criminal exploitation
- Multisystemic therapy
- Social and behavioral problems