Methods and Results:The symposium combines quantitative and qualitative research from multiple sites across the country. The first paper, “Service Histories, Resources, and Risk Behaviors among Homeless Youth that Aged Out of Foster Care,” uses survey data from a community count of homeless youth in Houston to examine risk and protective factors of homeless youth that have aged out of foster care, identifying which youth are at highest risk for adverse outcomes. It presents implications to inform transition planning to prevent homelessness as youth exit foster care.
The second paper, “Helping-seeking behaviors and coping strategies among homeless youth,” uses data from qualitative interviews with youth across three cities to examine reasons youth seek help and barriers that prevent help-seeking. Findings suggest implications for improving services to better engage homeless youth, overcome help-seeking barriers, and provide more responsive and appropriate services when help is sought.
The third paper, “Services and Strategies to Address the Needs of Runaway and Homeless Youth who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ),“ utilizes data from focus groups conducted at 10 transitional living programs across the country with both LGBTQ youth and the providers that serve them. The paper provides recommendations for developing services and policies that affirm LGBTQ youth--a large and marginalized subgroup of homeless youth--and training providers to better serve them.
The final paper, “Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Formal and Informal Income Generation among Homeless Young Adults in Three U.S. Cities” examines a key leverage point for moving youth out of homelessness – employment. The study uses Structural Equation Modeling to examine risk and protective factors associated with formal income, such as employment, and informal income, such as selling drugs and prostitution. Findings provide information to assist in tailoring interventions to increase employment for homeless youth.
Conclusions: Together, these papers suggest ways to improve interventions to prevent and end youth homelessness. Papers on foster and LGBTQ youth provide insights into the unique characteristics of these subgroups, groups identified by USHIC as particularly vulnerable. Papers on help-seeking and income generation provide information that can be used to support youth in moving from the streets to long-term stability. Across papers, risk and protective factors are identified that suggest additional foundations for interventions to improve both immediate and long-term outcomes.