Interventions for Homeless Young Adults: Outcomes and Implications
Each study developed and tested a culturally appropriate intervention based on a different perspective:
(1) Findings of a randomized trial of a skill-building intervention for homeless youth in Colorado will be described. The intervention trained youth to practice mindfulness, with the ultimate goals of drawing their attention to risks on the streets and aiding them in problem solving to avoid victimization. Specific strategies were shown to be particularly beneficial.
(2) Preliminary findings of a randomized trial in Texas will be discussed concerning a strengths-based intervention directed at improving psychological capital and goal attainment among homeless young women; results suggest hope, resiliency, and positive attitudes about the future improved more for experimental group participants than controls.
(3) Results of an intervention to determine the efficacy of using strengths-based outreach to engage substance-using homeless youth into various services in Ohio will be presented. Findings suggest service disconnected youth who experience greater marginalization and problem severity than youth connected to services can be successfully engaged into services through a strengths-based approach.
4) Qualitative results of several focus groups to understand the perceived barriers and facilitators to engagement in shelter services in Texas will be discussed. This study highlights the need for outreach efforts that recognize youths’ desires for self-reliance and frame shelter services as supporting rather than restricting independence.
This symposium brings together four uniquely rigorous intervention/services studies conducted with homeless young adults. Collectively, these presentations will discuss outcomes and practice implications while exemplifying strategies for rigorous intervention and services research with this difficult-to-engage population. Together, these presentations aim to initiate dialogue concerning the critical need for tailored interventions that address risk factors associated with life on the streets, while recognizing the unique strengths of homeless young adults. As the findings of these diverse studies demonstrate positive results in some areas and not in others, they provide knowledge for further development of interventions and services. Only with further research focused on developing, testing, and modifying interventions and services will the goal of streamlined and coordinated systems of care for this vulnerable population be realized.