A Typology of Homeless Youth


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PowerPoint from Professor Paul Toro on his typology of homeless youth.

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A Typology of Homeless Youth

  1. 1. A Typology of Homeless Youth Paul A. Toro, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI Webinar, March 22, 2012 This powerpoint presentation will be available on the website of the National Alliance to End Homelessness
  2. 2. Existing Research on Homeless Youth• The population of homeless youth is heterogeneous• Early typologies were crude (e.g., runaways vs. throwaways vs. systems kids vs. street kids)• A full paper presenting these findings appeared in a recent issue of NAEH’s Research Matters.
  3. 3. The Housing, Adolescence, and Life Outcomes (HALO) Project: A longitudinal study of 250 homeless and 148 matched housed adolescentsThis research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  4. 4. Baseline Probability Sample of 250 Homeless Youth• Adolescents (ages 13-17) were sampled from throughout the 8-county Detroit metro area in 1997-2000• Mostly, they came from youth shelters, but also from out-patient and residential programs, and other sites
  5. 5. A Typology among HALO’s Homeless Youth (N=250)• Latent class analysis at baseline: – 1. transient but connected (n=55), – 2. high-risk (n=46), and – 3. low-risk (n=149)• Longitudinal outcome differences: – Low-risk showed the most stable housing over the 7-year follow-up period – All groups largely housed by 6-7 years
  6. 6. Latent Class Analysis Transient, Low- High High- Dysfunctional but functioning risk risk 18% connected 60% 60% 18% 22%Conduct DisorderDepressionAlcohol UseDrug UseNumber of living sitesHomeless in the past30 daysNumber of schoolsDropped out of schoolNumber of sexualpartnersAbuse historyDays employedFamily cohesionSelf-efficacy
  7. 7. Typologies: Summary• Need for empirical validation based on representative samples• Typologies can be based on longitudinal outcomes rather than pre-existing characteristics• Do certain subgroups do better in certain interventions?
  8. 8. Some Practice/Policy Implications• Homeless youth are heterogeneous• Some youth will need intensive, long- term services (esp. street youth)• Some may appear to be doing “OK,” but still are unstable with housing• About half, with minimal attention, will do well, even in the short-term• Need for family-based prevention & treatment programs
  9. 9. Publications from HALO and it’s pilot:• McCaskill, P. A., Toro, P. A., & Wolfe, S. M. (1998). Homeless and matched housed adolescents: A comparative study of psychopathology. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 306-319.• Wolfe, S. M., Toro, P. A., & McCaskill, P. A. (1999). A comparison of homeless and matched housed adolescents on family environment variables. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 9, 53-66.• Heinze, H., Toro, P.A., & Urberg, K. A. (2004). Antisocial behavior and affiliation with deviant peers. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 336-346.• Urberg, K., Goldstein, M., & Toro, P.A. (2005). Supportive relationships as a moderator of the effects of parent and peer drinking on adolescent drinking. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 15, 1-19.• Fowler, P.J., Ahmed, S. R., Tompsett, C. J., Jozefowicz-Simbeni, D. M., & Toro, P.A. (2008). Community violence and externalizing problems: Moderating effects of race and religiosity in emerging adulthood. Journal of Community Psychology, 36, 835-850.
  10. 10. • Tompsett, C.J., Fowler, P.J., & Toro, P.A. (2009). Age differences among homeless individuals: Adolescence through adulthood. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 37, 86-99.• Haber, M., & Toro, P.A. (2009). Parent-adolescent violence and later behavioral health problems among homeless and housed youth. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79, 305-318.• Tompsett, C.J., & Toro, P.A. (2010). Predicting overt and covert antisocial behaviors: parents, peers, and homelessness. Journal of Community Psychology, 38, 469-485.• Ahmed, S., Fowler, P.J., & Toro, P. A. (2011). Family, public and private religiousness and psychological well-being over time in at-risk adolescents. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 14(4), 393-408.• Toro, P.A., Lesperance, T.M., & Braciszewski, J.M. (2011, September). The heterogeneity of homeless youth in America: Examining typologies. Research Matters (pp.1-12), Homelessness Research Institute, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Washington, DC.• Hobden, K.L., Forney, J.C., Durham, K.W., & Toro, P.A. (2012, in press). Limiting attrition in longitudinal research on homeless adolescents: What works best? Journal of Community Psychology.