Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 545–555 | Cite as

Successful Transitions of Runaway/Homeless Youth from Shelter Care

  • Von E. Nebbitt
  • Laura E. House
  • Sanna J. Thompson
  • David E. Pollio
Original Paper


Previous research indicates that runaway and homeless youth often achieve positive outcomes after shelter stays however few studies have examined how these outcomes are achieved. This study employs qualitative methods to explicate this phenomenon. Twenty-five providers and 21 youth from four shelters participated in this study. Youth were recruited who had completed shelter care and returned home for minimally six months. Multiple raters identified themes and created a conceptual model. While in shelter, youths experienced structure and freedom, and the family experienced respite. Once youth became involved in treatment, the family re-connected and the youth returned home. After returning home, youth and family become involved in follow-up services. Results from our study provide insight into the process through which runaway/homeless youth return home after a shelter stay. Our findings emphasize the need for continued change by all members of the family system, highlighting the need for continued intervention to maintain positive changes.


Runaway youth Homelessness Resiliency Shelter care Family reunification 



The authors thank the participant agencies in the MINK (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas) Network, Federal Region VII. They also acknowledge the ongoing support of Linda Bitner at ACF, and James Braun, CEO of Youth-In-Need.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Von E. Nebbitt
    • 1
  • Laura E. House
    • 2
  • Sanna J. Thompson
    • 3
  • David E. Pollio
    • 4
  1. 1.E. Franklin Fraser Center for Social Work Research, School of Social WorkHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Health and Human ServicesRockvilleUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  4. 4.George Warren Brown School of Social WorkWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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