Free homeless youth papers, essays, and research papers. In this paper, we will generally use the term “homeless youth” to refer to those between the ages of 12 and However, many studies of homeless youth have . youth and homeless, the current body of research indicates that abuse, family breakdown, For the purposes of this paper, we use the term ''homeless youth'' to.
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Unfortunately, as discussed, many of the public services available to homeless youth, such as the child welfare system, are fragmented and uncoordinated.
As a result, homeless youth often become frustrated and reluctant to enter the system, resigning to a life on the streets alone. The Denver-based children and families program staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience.
Denver staff can be reached at or childwelfare ncsl. Staff in D. MyAccount Login Register. Homeless and Runaway Youth. Share this: We are the nation's most respected bipartisan organization providing states support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill. Copyright by National Conference of State Legislatures. Assignment rubric 20 points marketing dissertation pdf format nail salons business plan homework should not be banned facts global marketing assessment fedex creative writing journal entries examples thesis for research paper of rosa parks tips on how to write an essay effectively hand with pencil writing on lined paper the crucible john proctor essay.
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Homeless youth reported that their parents were more physically and verbally aggressive toward them, and that they were more verbally aggressive toward their parents. There is evidence that neglect and abuse may actually precipitate separations of many youth from their homes. Similarly, a study of street youth ages in Seattle found that 18 percent had been removed from their homes MacLean et al.
Families of Origin. Many homeless youth report disrupted family histories, which may contribute to the risk for homelessness. Residential Instability. For many youth, homelessness appears to be part of a long pattern of residential instability Robertson, Consistently, homeless youth report repeated moves during their lifetimes.
Many studies report that many homeless youth have repeated contacts with public social service systems, many of which occurred at very early ages.
Across several studies, rates of foster care placements have ranged from 21 percent to 53 percent Cauce, Paradise, Embry, Morgan, Lohr, Theofelis et al. Many homeless youth also report stays in psychiatric facilities and criminal justice facilities. Similarly, many adolescents in public systems have histories of homelessness or residential instability. In Albany County, New York, between 33 percent and 40 percent of jail inmates ages 16 to 20 , were homeless Council of Community Services, Evidence from two studies suggests that youth in residential placements or in institutional settings risk becoming homeless upon separation from those settings.
In studies of street youth in Hollywood and San Francisco, more than one-quarter of those who had been in foster care, group homes, or juvenile detention became homeless upon their most recent separation. Some providers suggest that youth who are returned inappropriately to their prior homes due to lack of more appropriate alternative long-term placements may also be at risk. A Boston report suggested that the lack of available out-of-home resources e. Half of the cases of first-time, out-of-home placements in one setting were returned home despite the assessment of the emergency shelter staff that this was an inappropriate placement decision Greater Boston Emergency Network, Only 19 percent were good candidates for immediate family reunification; and 25 percent were chronic runaways who were very unlikely to be returned home or to placement.
School and Learning Difficulties. Consistently, studies suggest that many homeless youth have had interrupted or difficult school histories, and many are currently not attending school. In a Detroit sample of homeless youth, 85 percent had at some point been suspended from school, 26 percent had been expelled, and 15 percent had dropped out of school Toro et al. While a history of school problems is prominent in the literature, its contribution to homelessness is unclear.
School problems are often hypothesized to be a precipitant of family conflict that results in a runaway response. Others suggest that school difficulties are merely symptoms of more pervasive family problems. Mental Disorders. As for homeless adults, the assessment of mental health status among homeless adolescents poses a number of problems Robertson, ; Toro, In any event, several studies have documented high rates of emotional and mental health problems among homeless youth.
Rates of serious disorders assessed with standardized instruments with diagnostic criteria range from 19 to 50 percent. Among street youth in Hollywood ages , 26 percent met DSM-III criteria for major depression compared to percent of community and school samples of adolescents Russell, It should be noted that in a rare study that included a carefully-matched comparison group of housed youth, McCaskill and colleagues found that the rates for many mental disorders were not significantly different, although homeless youth did have significantly higher rates of disruptive behavior disorders and alcohol abuse or dependence.
Such findings highlight the need for appropriate comparison groups when attempting to identify distinctive characteristics of homeless youth. Most frequently reported traumatic events included seeing another person hurt or killed or being physically or sexually assaulted themselves. Suicide Attempts. Studies of homeless youth consistently report suicide attempt rates that are higher than rates for normative groups.
All reported rates of suicide attempts for homeless youth are higher than the lifetime rate for adults reported in the LA ECA project which was 4 percent Russell, Conduct Problems. A wide range of conduct problems are reported for homeless youth. Though it appears that many such problems are of long duration, some may develop or become exacerbated by experiences while homeless. In three studies of homeless youth, rates of conduct disorder ranged from 48 percent to 93 percent Cauce et al.
It is important to note that current diagnostic criteria, in fact, consider the experience of running away or being homeless, itself, as a key sign of conduct disorder. However, even excluding such criteria, the rate of conduct disorder among homeless youth is high.
Research suggests that homeless youth may have associations with deviant peers, some of whom may themselves be homeless. Gang activity appears common among homeless youth. Youth Substance Use. Though it is not possible to determine from existing research the extent to which alcohol or other drug use may contribute to youth homelessness, many youth report substance use themselves and by their parents.
The majority used illicit drugs before they experienced homelessness the first time About half of youth in New York City shelters ages reported physical symptoms of substance abuse, and 17 percent reported addiction symptoms Koopman, Rosario, and Rotheram-Borus, In a probability sample of sheltered homeless youth, 21 percent met DSM-III-R criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence and 24 percent for drug abuse or dependence McCaskill et al.
Rates of substance use seem to vary dramatically by history of homelessness. Comparing youth who reported having run away once, two or more times, or never, Windle found a similar pattern, with those having multiple homeless episodes showing the highest rates of substance use or abuse. As with the general population, rates of substance use and abuse increase with age. Among homeless clients of a community-based clinic in Hollywood, older youth were significantly more likely to report use of alcohol, stimulants, narcotics, and injection drug use Kipke, Among a probability sample of youth in shelters in metropolitan Detroit ages , older youth had significantly higher rates of DSM-III-R diagnoses of drug abuse or dependence Boesky et al.
Parental Substance Use. One study suggests that parental alcohol use may contribute to youth homelessness. Other studies suggest high substance use by parent. For example, a study of intake records for over 44, youth in federally-supported shelters reported that drug abuse by the parent figure was the principal problem of 16 percent to 18 percent of youth U. Government Accounting Office, Miller, Hoffman, and Duggan found that 41 percent of runaways reported that one or both of their parents had a problem with alcohol and 17 percent reported that one or both parents had a serious drug problem.
Toro et al. Health Status. Like homeless adults, homeless youth appear to be at greater risk than their domiciled counterparts for a variety of medical problems, and their health often deteriorates while homeless.
They may have little money and eat poorly. They may have little opportunity to maintain adequate personal hygiene and are hard put to find the time or place to recuperate adequately from illness or injury. They suffer disproportionately from traumatic injury, skin infestations, infectious diseases, nutritional disorders, and other conditions Kennedy et al. Sexual Behavior. The literature reveals high rates of sexual activity among homeless youth, but variable rates of protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
Studies consistently report that the majority of youth i. Similarly, 92 percent a Hollywood street sample ages 13 to 17 were sexually active. In a sample of homeless youth from 4 Midwestern states, Whitbeck et al.
In Detroit, Wolfe, Levit, and Toro found that 71 percent of homeless youth age 12 to 17 in shelters had ever had intercourse and 43 percent reported being currently sexually active. In another Detroit study, Toro et al.
Both studies also found that, compared to matched housed youth, the homeless youth were significantly more sexually active. In four local studies, the lifetime rate of pregnancy for homeless girls has ranged from 27 to 44 percent, and 6 to 22 percent have reported having given birth Cauce, Morgan, Wagner, Moore, Sy, Wurzbacher et al. Studies have identified as many as 10 to 20 percent of homeless young women who are currently pregnant e.
Young women who are pregnant while homeless are at risk for low-birthweight babies and high infant-mortality because they are unlikely to get prenatal care and may not have adequate health and dietary habits Kennedy et al. Homeless youth present a high-risk profile for human immunodeficiency virus HIV infection. Specific high-risk sexual and drug use behaviors including multiple sex partners, high-risk sexual partners, survival sex, minimal condom use, injection drug use, sharing needles, and having sex while high Allen, Lehman, Green, Lindergren, Onorato, Forrester, Field Services Branch, ; Kipke et al.
Risk behaviors for HIV exposure are more common among youth who are older, homeless longer, and not staying in shelters. Despite knowledge about transmission modes, many homeless youth do not use protection against exposure. Recent seroprevalence studies in clinical samples suggest that HIV is already a widespread health problem among homeless youth and young adults in some areas.
In one study of HIV rates in clinical samples of homeless youth ages 15 to 24, the rate of HIV-positives across four cities was 2 percent. Rates were higher among youth over age 19, and they varied dramatically by site. Yet the risk of exposure poses a real threat to homeless youth across geographic areas who report high-risk behaviors.
Many youth have difficulty meeting basic needs. Several reported institutional stays including one young woman who had been in a hospital for childbirth. In this same study, youth who slept in public spaces often formed groups in which individuals took turns staying awake to keep guard.
Providers occasionally report that minors sometimes misrepresent their age to gain access to adult shelters. This included abandoned buildings, vehicles, parks and beaches, loading docks, rooftops, and crawl spaces under houses. Shelters or meal programs were the most usual sources of food.
Youth reported little if any income, most of which came from legal sources such as odd jobs or family gifts. However, income from illegal activities was also common including sex work and drug dealing Robertson, Anecdotal reports from staff and youth suggest that staff at shelters and other sites sometimes exclude youth with severe emotional problems, those dangerous to themselves or others, those with alcohol or drug problems, or those with HIV infection.
Many homeless adolescents report illegal behavior. However, some of this behavior may be part of their strategies for survival. Some illegal behaviors may provide for basic needs directly for example, breaking into an abandoned building for a place to stay or trading sex for food or shelter while others may generate income to meet basic needs for example, selling drugs or sex.
In a 4-state Midwestern sample of homeless youth, 23 percent reported stealing, 14 percent forced entry to a residence, 20 percent dealt drugs, and 2 percent engaged in prostitution Whitbeck et al. Of these, 82 percent traded sex for money, 48 percent for food or a place to stay, and 22 percent for drugs. Similarly, about one-third of a Hollywood street sample ages reported ever trading sex for money, food, or shelter.
Sex also had been traded for drugs by 11 percent of the sample. Although generating cash income was the principal motive for drug sales, one-fifth of the sample also sold drugs to support their own drug use. Studies have reported high rates of victimization among homeless youth. In their 4-state Midwestern sample, Whitbeck et al. While homeless, 18 percent of the boys and 12 percent of the girls had been beaten up more than once, 11 percent and 7 percent had been robbed more than once, and 11 percent and 4 percent had been assaulted with a weapon more than once.
This model proposes that a variety of background characteristics, including maltreatment, poverty, parental psychopathology, and negative parenting, all put homeless youth at risk for poor outcomes. Homelessness also puts the youth in a context conducive to further negative outcomes e. In some recent and disturbing findings based on a 5-month follow-up of street youth from Seattle, Hoyt and Ryan found that those with a prior history of victimization were the most likely to be victimized during the follow-up period.
There is no longitudinal evidence that homeless youth are, in fact, at heightened risk for homelessness later in adulthood although a few ongoing studies are investigating this; Cauce et al. These rates are higher for homeless adults than adults in the general population among whom about 7 percent have ever experienced homelessness Link et al.
Olson et al. Those who had run away more than once, as compared to their siblings or those who ran away only once, had poorer work histories, more involvement with the justice system, and were more likely to be single. After four years, he found that the repeat runaways reported more alcohol and drug use and abuse, more delinquent behaviors, lower self-esteem, and a higher rate of dropping out of school, while the one-time runaways fell about midway between the never and repeat runaways on most of these domains.
Strategies are needed to reduce the amount of harm a youth encounters while homeless. In the short term, emergency and transitional services are needed for those who are currently homeless. Providers suggest that the younger youth and those in their first episode of homelessness are more likely to reconcile with families if the homeless episode is responded to with early intervention.
For the longer term, however, strategies are also needed to reduce the number of youth who become homeless. Homelessness itself presents physical and mental health risks to the youth.
It may also represent an interruption of normative socialization and education, which will likely affect the ability to live independently in the future. There is little comprehensive information on model programs serving youth or young adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Homeless youth and young adults face many barriers to services in the larger community Clark and Robertson, Most are survivors of difficult situations, and many are skeptical and distrustful toward adults.
Many street youth in particular have become accustomed to taking care of themselves and some seem unwilling to come into service sites or eventually return to a family or foster home in which they could lose a great deal of control over their everyday lives. Many homeless youth have serious emotional or mental problems. In many cases providers first may want to help homeless youth meet their immediate needs.
Basic services can then provide a gateway to other needed services. Providers have suggested that since homeless youth have diverse needs which cross agency jurisdictions, they require a comprehensive service array New York State Council, Homeless youth need many services, including housing, education, vocational training, health care, mental health care, substance abuse services, and legal assistance.
Coordination among providers is needed to strengthen their ability to serve the population. Interagency cooperation could be augmented by linkages with community non-profit agencies serving youth. Bringing together stakeholders from all parts of the youth-care community can help build the needed continuum of care for homeless youth by consolidating resources and to forging service alliances Mangano, The approach involves many components including careful assessment and treatment planning, linkage to a full range of needed community services, crisis counseling, flexible use of funds to support youth, small caseloads no more than 12 cases per counselor , and open-ended service provision.
There are many different groups among homeless youth with special needs. These include gay and bisexual youth; non-English speakers; those who have been homeless longer; those involved in sex work; pregnant teens; and youth with serious medical, emotional, behavioral, or substance use problems. Staff of shelters, drop-in centers, medical clinics and other programs might better be trained to deal with the particular circumstances, experiences, and special needs of such groups Rotheram-Borus, b; Young adults e.
Besides providing a safe place to spend the night, youth shelters have often served as sites from which to mount special programs and therapeutic interventions Rotheram-Borus, b. However, some homeless youth and young adults never use shelters or use them only intermittently Kipke et al. Shelters sometimes exclude youth most in need of intervention because they lack adequate staff or appropriate facilities to deal with youth who have special needs. According to anecdotal reports, youth most likely to be excluded from shelters are those who pose a threat to institutional routine or safety i.
At times, appropriate or accessible shelter beds for youth are not available. To reach such youth, services can be provided in sites other than shelters. Educational and treatment interventions have been located successfully within low-demand community sites such as drop-in centers as well as through outreach programs to youth on the streets.
In most states, minors may consent to some types of health care including treatment for alcohol, drug or mental health problems, true emergencies, or treatment for sexually transmitted diseases Kennedy et al. Even so, few homeless youth have adequate contact with the health care system, which may result in delayed treatment for acute and chronic health problems. Providers have identified specific barriers to treatment in formal settings. Aggressive screening of homeless youth can identify such health problems as a first step in providing proper treatment and health care.
In designing treatment services, many of which have been developed for adults, it will be important to adapt the services to the specific needs of homeless youth and young adults. Researchers have recommend that homeless youth and young adults be targeted for health education and prevention programs, given their high risk for exposure to and transmission of HIV, other STDs, and other infectious diseases Rotheram-Borus, a.
Because of high rates of prior suicide attempts, current ideation, plans for suicide, and depression, staff working with homeless youth should receive training in assessing suicidality Rotheram-Borus, Once homeless on their own, homeless youth face extraordinary economic problems.
Homeless youth and young adults often need to become part of the work force. Unfortunately, most are ill prepared for work, requiring extensive job training and placement services. Vocational and occupational programs are a fundamental part of the transition from the streets to mainstream society.
Though there has been considerable discussion in the literature on services for youth who are already homeless, little attention has been given to how we might prevent homelessness in the first place. Below, we consider two basic approaches to accomplishing prevention of homelessness among youth. Preventing Repeated Homelessness. For youth and young adults who have already experienced homelessness, an obvious goal of services should be to prevent any future homeless episodes.
Toro and Bukowski have recently advocated for an expanded service delivery model for youth shelters. This model would supplement the crisis intervention approach common in most youth shelters to provide a variety of long-term services for youth and their families. Many have recognized this need and have proposed intensive case management programs e.
Since most homeless youth eventually return to their families, providers might consider active outreach to all family members in addition to the youth themselves to help the families cope and remain intact.
Primary Prevention. Primary preventive interventions would attempt to prevent homelessness and other harmful outcomes among adolescents in the general population. In the case of homelessness, interventions could identify youth at risk for residential instability and homelessness or could be targeted even more broadly. Based on research findings, there appear to be a number of risk factors for both youth and adult homelessness.
These include socioeconomic status, problematic family environments including family violence and substance abuse , and a history of conduct problems and delinquency. Implementation of family-based preventive interventions would be one useful approach. School-based interventions might also be effective at preventing homelessness and other harmful outcomes. Peer groups have been utilized in a number of existing effective prevention programs e.
Child-protective services in many localities, with often-limited resources, frequently seem to focus primarily on the removal of youth from abusive homes and the prosecution of abusive parents. Intervening with families earlier might help prevent homelessness for many youth. Recent longitudinal findings of Courtney et al. Such groups could be targeted for intervention. For youth in public institutions including foster care, juvenile detention, and psychiatric institutions, more careful and effective discharge planning may be helpful in preventing subsequent homelessness.
However, more knowledge is needed about what specific elements might constitute. Furthermore, it is critical that youth be tracked for a substantial period of time following discharge, since homeless episodes may not be immediate but can occur months after the discharge. Another way to prevent homelessness is to create more alternative residential settings for youth.
Policies could continue to encourage foster placement with extended family members who would take in youth who have already or who are about to separate from their family of origin. Some homeless youth already make use of extended family members as an occasional housing resource, suggesting their desirability as a placement. This strategy may increase the ability or motivation of extended family members to house the youth. For foster youth, independent living skills programs could be upgraded for youth in foster care preparing for independent living e.
The age of eligibility for foster care or other placements could be extended to age 21 or later. Another strategy would be to extend support services one to two years beyond the exit from foster care. A striking number of homeless youth become homeless upon separation from foster or group home placements. We suggest that special training for foster parents dealing with high-risk youth, especially those who have already been homeless, might help extend periods of residential stability.
Residential Options. As is true for homeless adults, long-term housing with independent-living services is needed. Transitional services also are needed. Most services for youth and young adults are emergency or short-term, with care limited to crisis periods.
Youth who lack basic skills such as money management, education, and vocational training need intensive support to achieve independent living.
Youth Advocacy and Legal Issues. Greater monitoring of foster homes and group homes may be needed to protect youth while they are in placement. Assigning caseworkers or special advocates to work with the individual youth may help identify and resolve problems before youth leave placements or institutional settings English, Homeless youth who are minors often are denied services because of their legal status and the consequent need for parental consent.
In many states, it is technically illegal to be a homeless minor not under the supervision of a guardian. In most states, unemancipated minors can legally give consent for care for some services as mentioned earlier. Requirements to establish emancipation could be simplified or could be changed to increase youth access to entitlement programs, health care, and other services, without necessarily relieving the parent of responsibility.
Under provisions of TANF, teen parents receiving assistance must now live under the supervision of a guardian. While these welfare reforms have been politically popular, they may serve to make if even more difficult for homeless youth who have children to receive welfare benefits.
Youth without children, even those who are legally emancipated minors, have virtually no access to public assistance in most localities. It is our view that, if the goal is to serve homeless youth better, expanding eligibility for benefits, rather than further restricting them, may be the better policy course.
Youth Leaving State Institutions. Not all homeless youth have received services from state youth-care agencies such as foster care, group homes, or juvenile detention.
However, these represent an important subgroup of the larger homeless youth population Mangano, Mangano suggests three key components for any youth-care agency that seeks to reduce and end homelessness among those it serves: Early in the case-management process, agency caseworkers could develop service plans for clients that help youth establish and maintain contacts with community resources such as health care, job training, and recreation that would ideally continue after discharge.
He also suggests that aftercare tracking which is rarely done currently will allow state agencies to review their effectiveness in preparing the youth for a return to their families or independent living. Such residential options could include a variety of supports such as substance abuse and mental health services, life-skills training, and peer counseling.
Evidence is mounting that the lack of discharge planning and aftercare at state agencies can leave youth and young adults ill-prepared for a return to their families or for independent living.
Providers suggest that increased aftercare tracking by state agencies would help inform discharge planning and other efforts to prevent homelessness among at-risk youth. Sampling and Measurement. Many studies on homeless youth provide only very sketchy information on the sampling methods used. Researchers studying homeless adults have recently found important differences depending on the sources of their samples e.
Studies of homeless youth Greene et al. We recommend that future research on homeless youth carefully document the sampling methods used. A growing number of large-scale studies of homeless adults have refined probability sampling procedures for selecting representative groups from a variety of settings across large geographical areas e. We recommend that future research consider adapting such methods for homeless youth we are aware of only one ongoing study that has done this; see Toro et al.
Another common flaw in the existing research literature involves the use of standardized instruments without documented reliability and validity for use with homeless youth. In addition, very few common measures have been used across studies, making comparison of findings difficult. We recommend that researchers give more attention to documenting the psychometric properties of standardized measures they use and, where appropriate, use measures that have been used in previous studies to enhance comparability across studies.
Comparison Groups. The existing literature tends to paint a rather disturbing picture of the homeless youth population. Homeless youth seem to have multiple, often overlapping problems, including serious medical and emotional health problems, substance abuse, sexual and social risk taking, and poor educational attainment.
However, without appropriate comparison groups, it is impossible to determine the degree to which these problems are unique to homeless youth. While recent studies on homeless adults and families have benefited from appropriate comparison groups e.
Comparison groups are essential to get a clearer picture of the unique features that distinguish homeless youth from other youth. Also, carefully analyzed qualitative interview data has proven useful in understanding the needs of homeless adults and families Banyard, ; Koegel, ; Underwood, and a few such studies have been done on homeless youth e. Similar approaches to needs assessment may be useful in studies of homeless youth. When assessing the needs of homeless youth, we believe that it is important to include the opinions of the youth themselves.
Longitudinal Research. Though there is a growing number of longitudinal studies on homeless adults and families e. The intervention research of Cauce et al. Much more work of this type is needed to help us understand what happens to homeless youth over time and what services and other resources seem to help them achieve positive long-term outcomes as they approach adulthood. Strengths Versus Deficits. The existing research and professional literature has focused intently on the problems and deficits of homeless youth.
Virtually no attention has been paid to the strengths and competencies these youth may possess.
1Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, Rory Meyers 2Coalition for Homeless Youth, New York, NY, United States. Articles The unique perspectives of service providers and homeless youth converged on some issues. . Moreover, homeless youth are rarely invited to participate in research aimed at improving their access to supportive. Next, the paper explores the latest statistics and research on homeless youth in America, and also examines the effects of homelessness on youth. Finally.