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Evaluation of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness --Youth Component

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Presentation on theme: "Evaluation of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness --Youth Component"— Presentation transcript:

1 Evaluation of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness --Youth Component
Christine C. George, PhD Associate Research Professor Loyola University Chicago Center for Urban Research and Learning Runaway and Homeless Youth Conference November 13, 2012

2 Agenda Background of study What We’ve Learned about Homeless Youth What We’ve Learned about Programs Key Points

3 Background Collaborative Research Project Partners & Stakeholders
Goals Components Focus groups, system testing, and participant observations Longitudinal study Program interviews Youth component

4 Youth Component

5 Methodology Qualitative
One to two hour semi-structured open ended interview. Randomly selected Interview Sample At the time of the survey, there were 152 youth over 18 years old in 13 programs in the youth homeless system. We interviewed 32 youth at a total of 10 programs. We also drew on focus groups conducted in first year of study. 3 focus groups with a total of 20 youth at 3 separate programs conducted during June and July (North, South and West Sides) We report primarily on interviews Where we find resonance, we note both interviews and focus groups These are youth in the homeless youth system. This is an important contextual point to keep in mind!

6 Who Was Interviewed Descriptive Youth (n=32) Age (years) Mean Median
Range 19.75 20 18-22 Gender Male Female Transgender 12 (37.5%) 19 (59.4%) 1 (3.1%) Race & Ethnicity Black Hispanic Other Multi-racial 21 (65.6%) (6.3%) 2 (6.9%) 7 (21.9%) Parent2 10 (31.3%) Descriptive Youth (n=32) Pregnant 4 (12.5%) Criminal Record3 2 (6.3%) Mental Health Needs Substance Abuse Needs Length of Time in Program 2 wks. To 2 yrs., 9 mos. <1 Month 1-3 Months 4-7 Months 8-12 Months >1 Year 3 (9.4%) 13 (40.6%) 7 (21.9%) 6 (18.8%) Length of Homelessness Approx. 2 months to 4 yrs. Originally, we had intended to include the youth as a strata in the longitudinal study we conducted following homeless individuals and families for a year. However, in discussion with youth providers, we realized that the homeless youth system is not structured similarly to the general homeless system (emergency, interim, permanent supportive housing) and, in addition, given the small number of beds, the youth would be lost, and we would not get enough specific information. So, we decided to pull out the youth sector and do in-depth individual interviews, concentrating on how individuals got into programs and their experiences in the programs. In this study we define homeless youth as age 18 to 24. There are youth younger than 18 housed in many of these programs. However, most if not all are being temporary housed in these programs by a provider from the Comprehensive Community-based Youth Services (CCYS) system and have a goal of reunification with parents or guardians. Since our study’s goal was to evaluate the homeless youth system, we did not include these younger youth who technically are part of the CCYS system. Race Other: 1 African, 1 Middle Eastern Hispanic: 1 Mexican, 1 Honduran Multi-racial: 2 Black, American Indian 1 Black, White 1 Black, Hispanic (Puerto Rican) 1 Black Other (Creole – French/African) 1 Black, White, American Indian 1 Black, Asian, White, American Indian Parent Nine of the 10 participants who were parents identified as women. The 10th participant identified as transgender. Mental health needs There was not a specific (fill in the blank question) about mental health. Rather, we asked individuals about needs and included a specific prompt about mental health needs. 4 youth explicitly identified a mental health need when asked. One respondent, however, described a much more pervasive occurrence: “Every one be wrapped tight that live up in here. Everybody on some type of medication, or they need to be on some type of medication. We all a little off. Like seriously, no joke. We all little off. There's something wrong with all of us in the brain. We either all bipolar together, we all depressed together, we either all angry together, It’s something off. We either got anger problem, bipolar, depression, anxiety. Something's wrong with all of us, low self-esteem. Suicidal. It's something wrong with all of us. Yeah. It's bad. I mean, you’re ain't gonna pick it up unless you really get to know the people in the building and you be like, ‘Dang! For real dog? that's how you is’” IF ASKED: Substance abuse needs 1 participant reported that he had a problem with marijuana in the past but stopped on his own 1 participant reported that she continues to smoke marijuana and thinks the substance abuse education offered by her program should be improved 1 One program was excluded from our sample because they only serve minor clients. Two more programs were left out from our sample because they did not respond. 2 One additional respondent was pregnant at time of interview. 3 One additional respondent had his criminal record expunged.

7 This visual represents the “paths” youth followed into their current programs. For 22 youth (68.75%), we were able to plot their “paths” completely. For 10 youth (31.25%), there were uncertainties/ambiguities about their “paths” which prevented us from being able to plot their individual stops. These youth are represented in the “Bouncing Around/Multiple Stops” box. For example: Unclear how many times a participant stayed at each mentioned “stop” or the order of the “stops”: 8 youth Multiple episodes of homelessness discussed, so unclear when the “path” starts and the exact order of “stops”: 2 youth Our inability to plot the individuals “stops” for 31% of the interviews underscores the complexity and chaotic nature of youth’s living experiences prior to reaching their current programs. 7

8 What we found out about the youth

9 No Safe and or Stable Home Base
Often about instability, conflict and poverty in their families of origin. Result in youth either being kicked out or leaving on own accord A number of overlapping, immediate reasons for homelessness emerged.

10 Chaotic, disorganized, turbulent family life (75%)
Overlapping Reasons Chaotic, disorganized, turbulent family life (75%) Family/head of household conflict About a third of these youth describe their own behavior contributing to conflict Family violence Five specific descriptions of physical violence (including intimate partner violence) Also, sense of violence a sub-text in many descriptions In about 1/3 of these youth mentioned family member (s)’ abuse of substances NOTE: Youth’s stories are counted in more than one category. Overlapping both between and within larger categories. Note regarding youth’s behavior: 3 youth kicked out because were pregnant or had a child (1 of these youth said her mom put her out because she had a 1-year-old daughter and had left school) 2 youth kicked out at least in part b/c of drugs (1 of these youth smoked pot w/ his nephew and a video of this was put on YouTube; 1 youth was selling drugs, which exacerbated an already existing conflict with his mother and stepfather) 1 youth kicked out because for different reasons, including being gay, “delinquent,” and age 18 1 youth was kicked out by her mother after fighting with her sister (earlier in her adolescence, she was in Job Corps for “bad kids”) 1 youth became homeless some time after his release from a juvenile detention center, where he was from age 12-17 Note regarding intimate partner violence: 1 case between youth’s sister and boyfriend, with whom she stayed 1 case between youth’s parents 1 case where youth moved in with her child’s father, and he was abusive

11 Overlapping Reasons Family’s capacity (or lack thereof) to support youth Family could no longer afford to support youth Extremely crowded households No family (immigrant/refugee) Time to become independent A few youth cited their becoming pregnant Limits of Sample: Little discussion of “typical” causes of youth homelessness Note regarding youth became pregnant (4 youth): 1 case where young woman wasn’t “kicked out” b/c pregnant, but she discussed wanting to move out once she became pregnant Little discussion of “typical” causes of youth homelessness “Typical” causes of youth homelessness: Sexual orientation – 1 youth Gender identity – 1 youth who identified as transgender did not attribute gender identity as cause of homelessness Aging out of child welfare system – While no participants explicitly talked about becoming homeless as a result of “aging out” of the child welfare system, there are indications that this was in fact the case. Seven participants explicitly mentioned being adopted (at times by a family member) or being in a foster family and leaving that home for various reasons, such as to attend college or to get away from ongoing conflicts. 3 of these participants indicated that their adopted families no longer would support the youth because the financial assistance they once received had run out. This loss of financial assistance contributed to participants’ housing instability and eventual entrance to their current programs. Youth didn’t necessarily perceive leaving their adopted families as the start of their homelessness, as some moved in with other relatives and had to leave their homes due to things like conflicts. They thus identified the start of their homelessness as when they left this second home. Even discussions of youth’s own behavior were identified as the cause of homelessness by only 8 participants (25%)

12 Youth’s Family Networks
Detached distant relationship with family (19 youth) Due to history of conflict and neglect Some participants specifically mentioned being mistreated by family members and focused on family members’ emotional unavailability and lack of support. Some youth shared they are at peace with their decisions to minimize contact with family and do not hold a grudge against family for mistreating them. Some youth mentioned substance abuse as a main reason they have minimal contact with family members. Reestablishing relationships with family members (9 youth) In process of reestablishing ties with family members with whom historically had conflict-ridden relationships For many of these participants, relationships with family members, specifically parents, have been improving since moving away from home and into current programs. Historically close relationships with certain family members remain strong (14 youth) Some youth remain close with majority of family members Other youth only close to 1-2 family members No contact with family (2 youth) NOTE: Categories overlap, as youth have different types of relationships with different members of their families. No contact with family: 1 participant was a refugee from Somalia who did not know if he had any living relatives. 1 participant had obtained an order of protection against her father and actively worked to prevent having contact with him. 12

13 Youth presented as active agents of change in their lives.
Goals & Attitudes Youth presented as active agents of change in their lives. Youth expressed valuing education and employment as means to becoming independent and self-sufficient and reported taking active measures to finish their education and find work. Youth connected independence and self-sufficiency to achieving their housing goals, which were to be able to afford their own apartments. All of the programs are goal-oriented. The majority of youth surveyed reported that they independently came up with their goals. 13

14 Goals & Attitudes Independent Motivated Positive Hopeful Confident
Desire to be self-sufficient; adult-like manner Motivated Active pursuit of goals (employment, education); value taking initiative Positive A number of participants shared they’ve had no bad days since being in program or every day/many days have been good day/their “best day” Hopeful A number of participants described their best day as a day when something made them feel motivated and thus hopeful for the future Confident Some participants explicitly express feeling more confident/self-assured Reflective A few participants explicitly reflected on changing/growing since entering program and seeing things in new ways Dedicated A few participants talked about specific ways they try to help others, better their communities/society In talking about their goals, we were struck by participants’ positive attitudes, maturity, and insight. The story that emerged from the interviews is one of youth’s hope and resilience. Youth reported that their opinions of themselves, their families, and people in general changed upon entering their programs. Youth reported experiencing positive transformations which led to higher self-esteem and self-respect. NOTE: Categories overlap, and categorization is subjective in terms of what we interpreted as “positive,” “motivated,” “hopeful,” etc. 14 14

15 School and Education key reference point
In School (17 youth) High School 5 GED Program Community College 6 4 Year College 1 Enrolled in school before entering the program 4 Enrolled in school after entering the program 13 Not in School (14 youth)—but school still the reference point Applying to an educational institution 2 Taking time off Plan to eventually further their education Waiting to take the GED exam 3 NOTE: It was unclear whether 1 participant was in school or not. Not in school – taking time off: 5 participants were taking time off from school, and most talked about reasons related to financial concerns. 3 youth explicitly mentioned financial concerns as the primary reason for leaving school. 1 was forced to leave a community college after finding out that his financial aid package would not cover his spring semester. With the assistance of his case manager, this participant was able to reinstate his financial aid and planned to return to school the following semester. 1 had left a community college mid-semester after she was charged nearly $500 for a class she dropped. She eventually was able to pay the school back with assistance from her case manager and planned to return the following semester. 1 participant had left school mid-semester after running out of money to pay for her classes. 1 youth left community college for one semester to work and planned to return to school the following semester. 1 youth did not mention financial concerns but had left a two-year program for a period of time and planned to return to the same program in the fall.

16 Employment Status N Employed (6 youth)
(4 youth are looking for a second or higher paying job) Security industry Fast food industry Customer service Food service Motivational speaker 1 2 Job Training Program (8 youth) Paid Internship 6 Unemployed, Not in Job Training (18 youth) Actively Looking for Work 12 Not Looking for Work Pregnant Waiting to receive social security benefits Demands of school Waiting for work permit Going to the Army Note: 18youth unemployed and not in bob training= 53%: so about half and half Youth value work and see employment as one of the main avenues to escape homelessness Youth focused on maintaining and/or securing employment Of the youth who are employed all are employed in low wage jobs Youth have a significantly difficult time finding work reflecting current economic climate Employed before entering program (1 youth) Employed after entering program (5 youth)

17 Intersection of Education & Employment
NOTE: These percentages are out of 31 youth, since it was unclear whether 1 youth was in school or not. The majority of participants were in school, employed, and/or in job training. Only 4 participants were unemployed and were not enrolled in school or a job training program. Regarding these 4 participants: 1 was pregnant 1 had resigned from job due to demands of high school and since had graduated and actively was looking for work and in process of applying to 4-year colleges 1 was waiting to take the GED exam and actively was looking for work 1 was enrolled in a community college but taking the semester off and was recently approved to receive cash benefits from Social Security

18 Youth seeking Family and Community
Programs provide sense of family, community Welcomed or cared for by staff “My best day…I think it was really the first day. Yeah, so, the first day I got in there, I think the whole staff was really warm and inviting, and I can honestly say they are way more inviting than my family was. I think [program staff] is like a second family that I have. They are my second family.” Staff members, specifically case managers, act as stable, supportive figures to youth, in contrast to young people’s chaotic home lives. Provide emotional support Offer guidance Encourage youth to succeed Ensure participants’ needs are met Help manage conflicts between residents Overall take-away point: Youth in this study valued current programs as spaces where they can transition relatively safely to adulthood and independence. Of the 30 participants who discussed their “best day” in the program, 8 described it as a day when they felt particularly welcomed or cared for by staff. Provide emotional support Ex. As one participant explained, “My best day in the program...let’s see, every day is my best day in the program, I go down to the office and the whole team there, they are just so available, like always, no matter what they are doing, they are always available, they will stop doing what they are doing. If you have a problem or if you need something, like it’s really like a family when you go down there and it’s funny because a lot of us that come into the program, we don’t really have, of course we have a family, like a biological family, but lot of us don’t have a family like with affection, people that love you even though they don’t have to. So that’s really the biggest thing that they give to us. Yeah, they give us an apartment and all that, they give us someone to talk to and you know just to be there like, I can, that’s the greatest thing they give you is the family.” Offer guidance Ex. After affirming that his case manager is respectful and honest, one participant continued, “They keep it 100 [percent]. If they think you are messing up, they’re gonna tell you. It’s like case manager was like my oldest sister. The one that went away for college and she was like going to Harvard or something. Then she comes back home and tell you what you are doing wrong.” Encourage youth to succeed Ex. While discussing services that he receives from his current program, one participant shared, “No, like, this the first and last service I use out of my whole life like shelter wise or transitional wise, this the only person that really helped me out and like, I'm sticking through it because they help me out a lot, like seriously. Like everybody look and feel like they might go through their ups and downs, the clients that live in here, but they look at them like as family. Because there is always a shoulder to lean on and help when you down…they always have a shoulder to lean on no matter what, no matter what the problem what the situation might be. They keep you up. If you feel like you trying to do something but you ain’t succeed at it, they still gonna push you to keep on moving forward like ain’t got nothing to keep them down. That’s one thing, they help you out a lot. A whole lot. Like you look at them as your family.” Ensure participants’ needs are met Ex. In reflecting on his relationship with staff members, one participant said, “Yeah but uh, like, you know, anything, if I wanted like, if I need some more body wash, or say like, I have a job interview, I need a suit. I don’t have a suit. They’ll help me get one or something. If there’s anything that I needed, I would have to go to [program staff]…And they keep me, they also keep me in check, you know, make sure I do what I need to do. Make sure I’m on my chores each week, make sure, I complete my homework, you know, stuff like that. Kinda like a parent. [Laughs] That’s how they treat me. But yeah, they’re really nice and you know, they’re real cool. Help manage conflict between residents Ex. One young woman described that she felt her case manager was particularly respectful when she was having problems with a roommate. Her case manager offered to mediate the situation only if she wanted her to do so. The case manager gave her options and allowed her to determine when the case manager would intervene to mediate the situation. Focus groups participants were more reserved in describing their relationships with staff members.

19 What we found out about the programs

20 Process to Enter Programs
Overall take-away point: Youth showed great deal of initiative and perseverance in researching, contacting, and gaining access to programs Planned entry, carefully weigh options Focus group: importance of “doing your research before going to a program” 20

21 Finding Programs Help-seeking, navigate system on own
Internet searches – 8 youth 311 – 2 youth, not very helpful DFSS – 2 youth, helpful (interviews), mixed reviews (focus groups) 18 youth said they considered another youth housing program during their searches Referred from other providers Adult shelters to youth programs – 3 youth Youth programs to youth programs – 11 youth Extensive outreach teams seem particularly effective – 7 youth School counselor, social worker – 2 youth Lawyer, advocate – 2 youth, both had immigration issues Word of mouth Past or current program participant, ex. friend, sibling, cousin – 6 youth Helping person, ex. family member, boss, pastor – 4 youth Finding Programs NOTE: These categories overlap. Ex. Some youth looked up programs online to learn more info after hearing about them from someone else; were referred by a “helping person” to a different youth program Help-seeking, navigate system on own Internet searches: At least 8 youth (25%) mentioned using the Internet to locate their current program. 2 used IDHS website. Hotlines, such as 311: Only 2 youth (6%) mentioned using a hotline to locate their current program. One said that the hotline referrals were not helpful, so she ultimately used the Internet. The other was told to go to a police station or ER. She ultimately was referred to her current program by her case worker at a teen pregnancy/parenting program (non-residential). DFSS offices: Only 2 youth (6%) mentioned DFSS as a referral source to their current program. For both, DFSS helped them get to appropriate youth shelters. Ex. One had been staying in adult shelters, and DFSS didn’t want him to do so any longer. Mixed reviews of DFSS in focus groups: Some comments about DFSS’s limitations, saying it is geared toward adults, refers to emergency shelters rather than transitional housing programs, and that participants have to wait a long time for the DFSS van to pick them up. Also positive comments about helpful DFSS workers who understand that adult shelters are inappropriate for youth and take time to connect participants to the most appropriate shelter (ex. youth, family, domestic violence). 21 21

22 Intake Process Varies from program to program and individual to individual Some are put on a wait list and interviewed after spot opens. Others have interview and are contacted when a spot opens. Some have multiple phone interviews and meetings before a formal interview is conducted. In emergency situations, youth can circumvent wait list. Many youth consistently called program to inquire about open slots. Felt this improved their chances of securing a spot. Youth initiated calling regularly to check on spot. Corroborated by focus group: “You’ve got to be on your business. You’ve got to show them you’re about something.” Complicated entry to current programs Requires skill and perseverance 22 22

23 Waiting Lists Time on waiting list was anywhere from 1 day to 2 years, depending on the availability of spots in the program “It’s a struggle as far as it’s hard, and there is a process for it. There are a lot of programs now in Chicago, and they all feel obligated to fill, so don’t get discouraged as far as you going into the intake. It’s a process, and you may get turned away, but you come back 2 or 3 months later, or they tell you to give them a call within the next 3 months. Just don’t get discouraged, but the beds [that] are filled are for you, so you have to keep in mind that it’s not going to be like I call them, and you are in. So it’s not immediate.” One program in our sample had an extensive outreach program and provided ongoing material assistance (food, hygiene packets, clothes, etc.) and emotional support to youth while they were waiting for an open spot. Range of wait times (based on 30 interviews, 2 youth did not say their wait time): 1-5 days = 13 youth 1-3 weeks = 6 youth 1-3 months = 5 youth 4-8 months = 4 youth 1 year = 1 youth 2 years = 1 youth NOTE: Quote is from a focus group 23 23

24 Youth’s Experiences in Current Programs: Community
Programs foster friendships among residents. Group meetings, special events (ex. BBQs, parties) bring residents together. Corroborated by focus groups Challenges to Community Staff: A few instances of strained relationships with staff, as is common in any family-like relationship. Feel staff are being judgmental, believing house gossip Frustrated by rules, ex. curfew, inconsistent enforcement Residents: Participants much more commonly talked about distant, tense relationships with other residents than with staff. Conflicts, confrontations lead to “drama” Do not trust other residents, therefore limit contact 10 of the 30 participants (33%) who discussed their best day in the program described it as some type of organized event/party or a time when they felt like everyone was getting along. 24 24

25 Services Education-related Employment-related Housing-related
Financial assistance GED help Help choosing school Help enrolling in school Encouragement (pre and during school) School advocacy Employment-related Job listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active) Referrals to job fairs Skills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes) Assistance with employment prerequisites Job training program (one program stands out) Housing-related Weakest service offered Savings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programs Housing referrals – 5 programs offer some type Aftercare – 5 programs Financial assistance – 2 programs Program extensions – 2 programs We asked youth what services they received, and this is what they told us. The services reflect youth’s primary goals of education, employment, housing The youth were appreciative of program services and, for the most part, spoke about them in a matter-of-fact way. They were especially engaged in life skills, which we’ll discuss in greater detail later in the presentation. Highlight Housing = weakest service offered Education-related Financial assistance Help filling out FAFSA Help with financial aid GED test fee School supplies, uniforms, fees Scholarships Waive application fees GED help Help register for GED test GED practice test Help choosing school Finding schools Help enrolling in school Not specified Verification letter Register for classes ID and required paperwork Application process Encouragement – pre and during school Encouragement to attend school Support/assistance with schoolwork School advocacy: Through the advocacy staff members provide, they take on the responsibilities that traditionally would be filled by a parent, thereby strengthening the process of programs providing a sense of family Communicate with school on youth’s behalf Attend parent meetings at school

26 Services Education-related Employment-related Housing-related
Financial assistance GED help Help choosing school Help enrolling in school Encouragement (pre and during school) School advocacy Employment-related Job listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active) Referrals to job fairs Skills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes) Assistance with employment prerequisites Job training program (one program stands out) Housing-related Weakest service offered Savings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programs Housing referrals – 5 programs offer some type Aftercare – 5 programs Financial assistance – 2 programs Program extensions – 2 programs Employment-related Job listings, referrals, leads This was the employment-related service mentioned most frequently. Is a rather passive service Job leads that are more active Staff develop connections with employers Staff drive participants to turn in applications Referrals to job fairs Skills-based services Practice/mock interviews Resume help Help with job applications Computer skills Workshops Assistance with employment prerequisites Pay for class Help getting fingerprints Apply for work permit Referrals to employment-specific services Job training program One program stood out as unique in this regard based on participants’ descriptions of its comprehensive on-site job training program. Comprised of 4 phases: 1) life skills; 2) job skills; 3) paid internship, and 4) job search All residents must attend the life skills classes if they are not already working or in school Competitive application process for the job skills phase of the program At the end of the job skills phase, participants search for internships that ideally align with their career goals. If the internship site is hiring, some participants may be hired on at the end of their internship. If not, then the program assists participants with a job search. No other program in our sample offered anything comparable in terms of employment-related services, according to participants’ descriptions. Other programs include employment skills in their life skills classes. One program has an Employment Coordinator who works with residents specifically on employment. Miscellaneous Interview clothes Complete job log regularly

27 Services Education-related Employment-related Housing-related
Financial assistance GED help Help choosing school Help enrolling in school Encouragement (pre and during school) School advocacy Employment-related Job listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active) Referrals to job fairs Skills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes) Assistance with employment prerequisites Job training program (one program stands out) Housing-related Weakest service offered Savings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programs Housing referrals – 5 programs offer some type Aftercare – 5 programs Financial assistance – 2 programs Program extensions – 2 programs Housing-related While youth generally indicated that housing services were lacking, they still identified a range of housing-related assistance that their programs do provide. Note: One program in our sample is somewhat unique in that residents have completed the agency’s 18-month transitional housing program. Thus, in the second-tier program, residents have their own apartments and have had the benefit of stable housing and supportive services for 18 months through the transitional program. Savings Overwhelmingly, youth shared that their future housing plans were to save as much money as possible and move into their own apartment. More than half of the programs in our sample (6 out of 10 programs, or 60%) help youth with this plan by having a mandatory savings program. Two of these programs do not specify a certain amount that youth must save, just that they have a savings account and include savings in their budgets. A participant at one of these programs commented that from the time residents move in to the program, staff stress the importance of savings. She added, “You have to have an increasing savings account, like this is mandatory. Uhhh, so that when you get out of the program you will have some type of foundation to move on to the next step in your life.” When reflecting on her goal of moving later in the interview, she shared, “Well as far [as] the moving, we really haven’t started on that. Mm as far, except for savings that is the biggest most…you will hear that [giggles] from the time you get into the program to the time you get out. Like it’s really for the transition, for when you move on after the program.” While in this program, residents are living in their own apartments, and they have the option to take over the apartment lease at the end of their time in the program if they are financially capable of doing so. The heavy emphasis on savings attempts to increase residents’ chances of taking over the leases. Three additional programs require youth to put between 30% and 65% of their income into savings. While none of these programs make a matching contribution to participants’ savings, the plan is that youth will earn interest on their savings. The remaining program operates as a subsidized housing program, with residents’ monthly rent amounts gradually increasing from month to month. Residents’ rent payments go into a savings account. Residents receive their rental contributions, plus interest, at the end of their two-year stay in the program.

28 Services Education-related Employment-related Housing-related
Financial assistance GED help Help choosing school Help enrolling in school Encouragement (pre and during school) School advocacy Employment-related Job listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active) Referrals to job fairs Skills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes) Assistance with employment prerequisites Job training program (one program stands out) Housing-related Weakest service offered Savings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programs Housing referrals – 5 programs offer some type Aftercare – 5 programs Financial assistance – 2 programs Program extensions – 2 programs Housing referrals At least half of the programs in our sample (five out of 10) provide participants with some type of referrals to housing programs. Two of the programs in our sample provide a four-month stay to residents. Thus, these programs provide referrals to longer-term youth housing programs, including some of the two-year programs included in our sample. A third program provides an 18-month stay and is part of an agency that also runs a subsidized housing program for youth. This program refers residents who are in good standing to its agency’s subsidized housing program, as well as other programs. Participants at a fourth program indicated that staff members provide referrals to subsidized and low-income housing, sometimes leaving referrals in participants’ mailboxes. These participants described completing housing applications for Section 8 and various housing authorities and being placed on waiting lists. Similarly, participants at a fifth program discussed referrals to low-income housing, in and out of state, as well as notification when Section 8 waiting lists opened. It is unclear how helpful these referrals ultimately will be, as applicants can spend years on waiting lists such as these. Aftercare Participants at half of the programs in our sample (5 out of 10) shared that their programs offer some type of aftercare services. These services include: Continued meetings with case managers Transportation assistance Apartment furnishings Material assistance (such as diapers and baby supplies, personal hygiene items) Through aftercare services, programs provide former residents with ongoing support to ease their transitions to fully independent living.

29 Services Education-related Employment-related Housing-related
Financial assistance GED help Help choosing school Help enrolling in school Encouragement (pre and during school) School advocacy Employment-related Job listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active) Referrals to job fairs Skills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes) Assistance with employment prerequisites Job training program (one program stands out) Housing-related Weakest service offered Savings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programs Housing referrals – 5 programs offer some type Aftercare – 5 programs Financial assistance – 2 programs Program extensions – 2 programs Financial assistance Participants at two programs indicated that their programs provide some type of financial assistance to help residents move into their own apartments. One program pays for resident’s first month’s rent. A second program pays for up to six months of rent in addition to the security deposit. This program also assists residents with purchasing household items and furniture. Program extensions Participants at two programs mentioned that the programs will extend residents’ stays if they reach the end of their stay and do not have anywhere to go. According to one participant, the cut-off age at one program is 21, but residents who are in good standing can stay for an additional six months past their 21st birthday, if needed. Another participant at this program shared that some youth will complete their 18-month stay at the program and then reapply after being out of the program for about three months. A participant at another program indicated that her stay would be up approximately three months after the interview date, and she did not yet have a housing plan. She explained, “But if I don’t have housing, I guess they are going to let me stay a little bit longer till they find me somewhere to go.” These programs’ flexibility to extend participants’ stays, as needed, allows them to have at least a small safety net in place so that youth do not return to the streets or double up with family and friends upon “graduating” from the programs.

30 Services Material support
Room and board, food, clothes, personal products, etc. Financial assistance Help obtaining ID (Social Security card, birth certificate, state ID) Life skills Teach practical skills and cover personal topics that reflect participants’ needs and life course stage Budgeting/money management Cooking, grocery shopping Housekeeping Health (including sexual health) Laundry Relationships Social skills Substance abuse prevention Transportation CTA cards Staff rides Healthcare On-site services at 5 programs Referrals to free clinics, Stroger by 4 additional programs Childcare On-site and referrals by 2 programs (specifically serve parents) Material support Shelter/room and board Food/groceries Vouchers/gift cards Pantry referrals Tangible resources Clothes Hygiene products Financial assistance Cash for extra chores Staff members provide money out of pocket Extreme example of a case manager’s adult child claiming a participant on her taxes and then giving him the tax refund, which he used to pay a school bill Case manager was fired when program found out Exemplifies familial relationship between staff and participants in some cases and conundrums staff face in working with too few resources to meet participants’ needs Help getting ID (Social Security card, birth certificate, state ID) Procedures Help with covering cost Life skills All of the programs in our sample provide life skills services. Nine of the 10 programs (90%) offer life skills groups or classes. Three programs stand out as having more formal life skills programs. Daily (Monday – Thursday) 4-hour class mandatory for all residents who are not working, in job training, or attending school Mandatory weekly workshop Designated life skills coach/counselor For the remaining program, it was unclear if life skills were discussed one-on-one with staff members or in a group setting. Clear example of how programs take on parental roles for many participants In life skills classes/groups, staff members and outside guests teach practical skills, such as budgeting and money management, grocery shopping, housekeeping, and how to talk to a landlord, that are designed to prepare youth to live independently.

31 Services Material support
Room and board, food, clothes, personal products, etc. Financial assistance Help obtaining ID (Social Security card, birth certificate, state ID) Life skills Teach practical skills and cover personal topics that reflect participants’ needs and life course stage Budgeting/money management Cooking, grocery shopping Housekeeping Health (including sexual health) Laundry Relationships Social skills Substance abuse prevention Transportation CTA cards Staff rides Healthcare On-site services at 5 programs Referrals to free clinics, Stroger by 4 additional programs Childcare On-site and referrals by 2 programs (specifically serve parents) Life Skills (cont.) They also discuss more personal topics that adolescents encounter, such as sexual health, healthy relationships, and substance abuse issues. The wide array of life skills classes that programs offer reflects the scope of services and support they strive to provide based on participants’ needs and stage in the life course. Budgeting/money management Cooking Housing related Apartment hunting Housekeeping, cleaning Health (includes sexual health) Grocery shopping Laundry Employment related Relationships Social skills Substance abuse related Parenting skills Miscellaneous (driving, sewing, taxes, understanding contracts, morals and values, religion, education-related, community skills) Transportation All 10 programs in our sample provide CTA passes to participants. Participants at three programs mentioned that staff also will drive them to places. A participant at one additional program reported that the program provides cab fare at times. Healthcare Participants at five of the 10 programs (50%) in our sample indicated that their programs provide on-site healthcare services. Participants at four additional programs indicated that their programs provide healthcare referrals, such as Stroger Hospital’s dental clinic and free clinics. The participant in the 10th program did not discuss healthcare. Childcare Participants in only two programs discussed receiving childcare assistance, not surprisingly, these are the two programs specifically for parents Combination of on-site services and referrals

32 Positive Assessment of Case Management
Youth value concrete assistance of case managers ID Apply for TANF/SNAP School enrollment, GED application fee, financial aid Job and housing referrals Youth value relational aspects of case management Confidentiality, trust, honesty Humor, share personal information Available Follow through Helpful referrals Hold youth accountable Emotional support and invested in youth Listen to personal problems w/o judgment Have someone to turn to for help dealing with stressful situations (ex. conflicts with residents) Respect youth’s boundaries, goals Helps youth stay focused on goals Contributes to youth’s stability in program One way program provides sense of family, community Contrast to past experiences w/ adults NOTE: Don’t say each example of concrete assistance All but one youth had a case manager. This was by choice, as this interviewee did not want to become dependent on a case manager. Relational aspects show ways staff can build trust

33 Youth’s Ratings of Programs
Comparison between Experiences of Youth in the Youth System and Youth in the Adult System Caring and Service Quality Youth receiving services in the Youth System gave the programs and program staff a higher rating than youth-aged individuals in the adult system (Adult System Mean = 34.88, Youth System Mean = 40.50*). Service Helpfulness Youth clients described their programs to be more helpful than the youth-aged individuals in the adult system (Adult System Mean = 15.88, Youth System Mean = *). Usefulness Youth clients reported that their programs more often found them openings and services in other programs (Adult System Mean = 11.31, Youth System Mean = 13.73*). * Difference between the means was significant at the 0.05 level. Although, the interviews with youth were semi-structured qualitative interviews, we included some close-ended quantitative questions at the end of each interview, including questions related to three scales on caring and service quality; service helpfulness; and service usefulness. We then compared the responses of youth who were staying in youth housing programs to the responses of clients between the ages of 18 and 24 who completed surveys during Wave 1 while staying in adult emergency, interim, or permanent supportive housing programs. There were 41 people between the ages of 18 and 24 who completed the adult client surveys during Wave 1. In comparing the experiences of youth in the youth system and youth in the adult system, youth in the youth system rated services and program staff in a more positive light in all three scales. Caring and Service Quality: 10 items, Range 10-50, high score is good, highest rating indicates positive rating of service/program Service Helpfulness: 4 items, Range 4-20, high score is good, highest score associated with positive rating of program Usefulness: 4 items, Range 4-20, high score is good, highest rating indicates most positive rating of program 33 33

34 What is Missing: Youth Identify Unmet Needs
Education Need help identifying, enrolling in, paying for college Current assistance limited to GED, high school College opportunities Employment Connecting to jobs, jobs with career ladders. Need comprehensive job training programs, paid internships, actual jobs Interested in careers that will allow them to perform skilled work and become financially independent, a goal that generally is out of reach when employed in low-wage service sector positions Limited assistance programs offer reflects lack of affordable housing in Chicago Youth’s suggested program improvements (discussed already) point to gaps in Chicago’s overall homeless system. We reiterate some of these gaps here and identify additional ones, in considering the overall system. 34

35 What is Missing: Youth Identify Unmet Needs
Housing Immediate, transitional housing Need for programs vs. shelters Lack of housing programs for age group Need for more “trans-friendly” programs Need financial security for existing housing programs Longer program stays Housing locations all over the city, currently concentrated in certain neighborhoods Long-term Need for low-income, affordable housing Uncertainty regarding how youth will afford own apartments after “graduating” from current programs But I think the biggest part is like, you know, they could offer options like... other places to live. Because I know some people don’t make enough money to afford an apartment very long. So, um, I think the biggest thing they could offer more places to move in…like they could offer low cost options.

36 Key points

37 Agencies as Agents of Transformation
Beyond housing, programs provide developmental and practical skills for youth to develop the necessary personal capital to survive on their own. Youth in these homeless programs are in a transitional life stage. Need space and support to develop key life and social skills Many youth reflected on how they have become more independent while in their current programs, particularly through life skills services and staff’s guidance and support. Indicated increased independence was helping them to prepare to live on their own

38 Agencies as Agents of Transformation
“I just feel so grown up now. Let’s see...if this program...everything they do like, at first it is annoying because you are not used to it, like me my problem was that I had a really big problem with authority because I never really had anybody to tell me what to do and I actually have to do it, you know what I am saying. So how like it was a lot of tough, tough, tough love for me…but mmm let’s see, everything, everything that seems regular like your savings and making sure you have a clean apartment, have workshops for learning how to cook and like all types of things that you are supposed to know how to do. You are living on your own and transitioning from a kid to an adult. It seems so everyday but it is really useful, it is really, really helpful, and all of that is part of the transition. ’Cause I couldn’t cook for, I couldn’t cook to save my own life (giggles) when I first got here. Oh my goodness, I was terrible. Mmm shopping the way you grocery shop like they are really big on that, like buying junk food, and they are not really gonna tell you what to buy, but they will help you pick out. They will make suggestions on the right stuff to buy.”

39 Homeless Youth are an Unique Group
Our findings support the CAEH Youth Constituency Group (1/19/12) assertion: “Youth who are homeless are not mini adult homeless people nor do they experience homelessness in the same way as adults; therefore all proposed responses to the specific additional barriers and challenges that they face must be developed through a lens of developmentally appropriate and cultural competency.” 39 39

40 New Policy Approach There is a policy approach—that was identified to us in discussions with advocates and providers as we reviewed our preliminary findings—that we especially want to highlight. We advocate a shift in how funders and providers conceive of providing services to homeless youth by adopting a “Transition Age Youth” framework.* This framework recognizes that: All youth need support as they transition to adulthood and thereby de-stigmatizes homeless youth Different youth need different types of support and thus a “one-size-fits-all” approach to homeless youth services is inadequate Homeless youth are unique from homeless adults and constitute a niche group within the larger homeless population that requires specialized services. * The California Institute of Mental Health, for example, uses a “Transition-Age Youth” framework in its approach. See: READ THIS FIRST, THEN SLIDE: Undergraduate interns at CURL helped us to realize a striking contradiction, as they compared their own lives to those of the youth in our study. Current scholarship on youth focuses on the lengthening of adolescence and delayed adulthood, as many college graduates return to their parents’ homes. Yet, these homeless youth face a very different set of expectations. We found that programs are expected to assist homeless youth in their transition to adulthood in a very short time span of two years or less. In contrast to more-privileged youth, homeless youth are expected to become independent, self-sufficient adults in their late teens and early 20s. The programs reflect that shorter expectation and these youth in poverty are not afforded the longer transition to adulthood that is becoming increasingly common in our society. These strict and unequal expectations place undue strains on homeless youth as well as homeless youth providers.

41 Possible Further Research
The participants in our study reflect the experiences and perspectives of youth who have the ability to advocate for themselves and suggest that some homeless youth likely do not possess the skills that are needed to gain entry to some of Chicago’s homeless youth programs. How many homeless youth are either not seeking out these programs’ services or are unable to finish these programs and why? What is happening to homeless youth who are not accessing these programs’ services?

42 Questions/Comments?

43 Resources Research reports on all evaluation components

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