Exit Strategies: Testing Ecological Prediction Models of Resilient Outcomes in Youth with Histories of Homelessness

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Title: Exit Strategies: Testing Ecological Prediction Models of Resilient Outcomes in Youth with Histories of Homelessness
Authors: Hyman, Sophie I
Date: 2010
Abstract: National incidence and prevalence estimates of homelessness in Canadian youth are unknown. However, a recent annual profile of shelter users in a large urban centre estimated that one in five consumers of emergency shelter services are youth. Adolescence is a period of vulnerability from developmental perspective. In their progression from childhood to adulthood, youth have multiple role transitions such as identity, autonomy, and parental separation to negotiate. Dire circumstances such as homelessness place youth at a disadvantage for attaining mastery of developmental transitions compared to their housed peers. Resilience has been defined as the maintenance of positive adaptation despite adversity. Developmentally, resilience is understood as age-appropriate functioning concurrent with vulnerability related to the adversity that might otherwise place the young person at risk for less positive adaptation. Ecological Systems Theory examines not only the most immediate aspects of youths' social context, such as social support, but also broader factors, such as resource-intensity of communities. Ecological Systems Theory considers linkages between the different levels comprising youth's social ecology. This framework is useful for understanding resilient outcomes in homeless youth because their social contexts are less insulated and protected, and are subject to differing influences than housed youth living in a traditional family unit. The purpose of this dissertation was to develop and test Ecological Resilience Prediction Models of outcomes in N = 157 youth who were homeless in October 2002 to October 2003, and N =99 youth who were re-interviewed between March 2004 to October 2005. The current study and its participants are part of the larger Panel Study on Homelessness in Ottawa (Aubry, Klodawsky, Hay & Birnie 2003). The Panel Study was undertaken to understand pathways into and out of homelessness across purposively sampled subgroups of homeless individuals. The three resilient outcomes predicted by Ecological Resilience Prediction Models within the dissertation were becoming re-housed, returning to school, and joining the work force. Secondary analyses were conducted amongst 17 youth who had become parents between Time 1 and Time 2 interview, whose data were considered separately from the rest of the sample. Results indicated that the single predictor of becoming re-housed was shorter lifetime durations of homelessness. Female sex and re-housing (for 90 days or longer), best predicted return to school. Factors predicting employment were complex, but consistent with working long hours while attending high school in studies conducted on housed youth with respect to cumulative stress. Greater Time 1 substance use and increased size of social networks predicted employment stability at Time 2. Diminished mental health functioning and greater duration of rehousing at Time 2 were additional predictors of employment at Time 2. Although employment was associated with benefits such as re-housing and decreased alcohol use at Time 2, it was associated with reduced mental health at follow-up. Policy and research recommendations emerged from examining each resilient outcome ecologically. The United States has specific educational legislation for homeless youth (the McKenny-Vento Act), a national data system to track epidemiological statistics on homeless youth (NEO-RHYMIS), and re-housing interventions for homeless adults, the implementation of which is supported in an adolescent population based on results of this dissertation (Housing First). Future research is needed to identify methods of feasibly implementing protective education, supportive employment and immediate housing for homeless youth in Canada.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/30020
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-20039
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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