Original Paper

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 852-859

First online:

Longitudinal Outcomes for Youth Receiving Runaway/Homeless Shelter Services

  • David E. PollioAffiliated withGeorge Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University Email author 
  • , Sanna J. ThompsonAffiliated withUniversity of Texas
  • , Lisa TobiasAffiliated withGeorge Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University
  • , Donna ReidAffiliated withGeorge Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University
  • , Edward SpitznagelAffiliated withGeorge Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University

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Abstract

This research examined outcomes and use of specific types of services 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months post-discharge for a large sample of runaway/homeless youth using crisis shelter services. Data were collected for 371 runaway/homeless youth using emergency shelter and crisis services at eleven agencies across a four-state midwestern region. Outcomes were assessed for runaway behavior, family relationships, substance use, school behavior, employment, sexual behavior, and self-esteem. Additionally, the impact of services on outcomes was assessed. Findings indicated that although youth achieved a wide variety of positive outcomes 6 weeks post-discharge, there were signs of attenuation of certain outcomes by the 6 month follow-up. Service use after discharge did not demonstrate a strong impact on maintaining outcomes. The substantive findings reported here present encouraging evidence for providers of services for runaway/homeless youth. Crisis shelter services appear to facilitate broad-based short-term gains, but do not appear sufficient to maintain these gains over an extended period.

Keywords

Homeless/runaway youth Youth shelters Services Longitudinal methods Service use