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, PhDAssociate Research ProfessorLoyola University ChicagoCenter for Urban Research and LearningRunaway and Homeless Youth ConferenceNovember 13, 2012
2 AgendaBackground of studyWhat We’ve Learned about Homeless YouthWhat We’ve Learned about ProgramsKey Points
3 Background Collaborative Research Project Partners & Stakeholders GoalsComponentsFocus groups, system testing, and participant observationsLongitudinal studyProgram interviewsYouth component
5 Methodology Qualitative One to two hour semi-structured open ended interview.Randomly selectedInterview SampleAt 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 interviewsWhere we find resonance, we note both interviews and focus groupsThese 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 Range19.752018-22GenderMaleFemaleTransgender12 (37.5%)19 (59.4%) 1 (3.1%)Race & EthnicityBlackHispanicOtherMulti-racial21 (65.6%)(6.3%)2 (6.9%)7 (21.9%)Parent210 (31.3%)DescriptiveYouth (n=32)Pregnant4 (12.5%)Criminal Record32 (6.3%)Mental Health NeedsSubstance Abuse NeedsLength of Time in Program2 wks. To 2 yrs., 9 mos.<1 Month1-3 Months4-7 Months8-12 Months>1 Year3 (9.4%)13 (40.6%)7 (21.9%)6 (18.8%)Length of HomelessnessApprox. 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.RaceOther: 1 African, 1 Middle EasternHispanic: 1 Mexican, 1 HonduranMulti-racial: 2 Black, American Indian1 Black, White1 Black, Hispanic (Puerto Rican)1 Black Other (Creole – French/African)1 Black, White, American Indian1 Black, Asian, White, American IndianParentNine of the 10 participants who were parents identified as women. The 10th participant identified as transgender.Mental health needsThere 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 needs1 participant reported that he had a problem with marijuana in the past but stopped on his own1 participant reported that she continues to smoke marijuana and thinks the substance abuse education offered by her program should be improved1 One program was excluded from our sample because they only serve minor clients. Two more programs were left out from our sample becausethey 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 youthMultiple episodes of homelessness discussed, so unclear when the “path” starts and the exact order of “stops”: 2 youthOur 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
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 accordA number of overlapping, immediate reasons for homelessness emerged.
10 Chaotic, disorganized, turbulent family life (75%) Overlapping ReasonsChaotic, disorganized, turbulent family life (75%)Family/head of household conflictAbout a third of these youth describe their own behavior contributing to conflictFamily violenceFive specific descriptions of physical violence (including intimate partner violence)Also, sense of violence a sub-text in many descriptionsIn about 1/3 of these youth mentioned family member (s)’ abuse of substancesNOTE: 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 181 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 12-17Note regarding intimate partner violence:1 case between youth’s sister and boyfriend, with whom she stayed1 case between youth’s parents1 case where youth moved in with her child’s father, and he was abusive
11 Overlapping ReasonsFamily’s capacity (or lack thereof) to support youthFamily could no longer afford to support youthExtremely crowded householdsNo family (immigrant/refugee)Time to become independentA few youth cited their becoming pregnantLimits of Sample: Little discussion of “typical” causes of youth homelessnessNote 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 pregnantLittle discussion of “typical” causes of youth homelessness“Typical” causes of youth homelessness:Sexual orientation – 1 youthGender identity – 1 youth who identified as transgender did not attribute gender identity as cause of homelessnessAging 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 neglectSome 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 relationshipsFor 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 membersOther youth only close to 1-2 family membersNo 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 & AttitudesYouth 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 mannerMotivatedActive pursuit of goals (employment, education); value taking initiativePositiveA 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”HopefulA number of participants described their best day as a day when something made them feel motivated and thus hopeful for the futureConfidentSome participants explicitly express feeling more confident/self-assuredReflectiveA few participants explicitly reflected on changing/growing since entering program and seeing things in new waysDedicatedA few participants talked about specific ways they try to help others, better their communities/societyIn 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.1414
15 School and Education key reference point In School (17 youth)High School5GED ProgramCommunity College64 Year College1Enrolled in school before entering the program4Enrolled in school after entering the program13Not in School (14 youth)—but school still the reference pointApplying to an educational institution2Taking time offPlan to eventually further their educationWaiting to take the GED exam3NOTE: 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 industryFast food industryCustomer serviceFood serviceMotivational speaker12Job Training Program (8 youth)Paid Internship6Unemployed, Not in Job Training (18 youth)Actively Looking for Work12Not Looking for WorkPregnantWaiting to receive social security benefitsDemands of schoolWaiting for work permitGoing to the ArmyNote: 18youth unemployed and not in bob training= 53%: so about half and halfYouth value work and see employment as one of the main avenues to escape homelessnessYouth focused on maintaining and/or securing employmentOf the youth who are employed all are employed in low wage jobsYouth have a significantly difficult time finding work reflecting current economic climateEmployed 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 notenrolled in school or a job training program. Regarding these 4 participants:1 was pregnant1 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 colleges1 was waiting to take the GED exam and actively was looking for work1 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, communityWelcomed 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 supportOffer guidanceEncourage youth to succeedEnsure participants’ needs are metHelp manage conflicts between residentsOverall 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 supportEx. 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 guidanceEx. 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 having...my 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 succeedEx. 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 metEx. 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 residentsEx. 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.
20 Process to Enter Programs Overall take-away point: Youth showed great deal of initiative and perseverance in researching, contacting, and gaining access to programsPlanned entry, carefully weigh optionsFocus group: importance of “doing your research before going to a program”20
21 Finding Programs Help-seeking, navigate system on own Internet searches – 8 youth311 – 2 youth, not very helpfulDFSS – 2 youth, helpful (interviews), mixed reviews (focus groups)18 youth said they considered another youth housing program during their searchesReferred from other providersAdult shelters to youth programs – 3 youthYouth programs to youth programs – 11 youthExtensive outreach teams seem particularly effective – 7 youthSchool counselor, social worker – 2 youthLawyer, advocate – 2 youth, both had immigration issuesWord of mouthPast or current program participant, ex. friend, sibling, cousin – 6 youthHelping person, ex. family member, boss, pastor – 4 youthFinding ProgramsNOTE: 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 programHelp-seeking, navigate system on ownInternet 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).2121
22 Intake ProcessVaries from program to program and individual to individualSome 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 programsRequires skill and perseverance2222
23 Waiting ListsTime 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 youth1-3 weeks = 6 youth1-3 months = 5 youth4-8 months = 4 youth1 year = 1 youth2 years = 1 youthNOTE: Quote is from a focus group2323
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 groupsChallenges to CommunityStaff: A few instances of strained relationships with staff, as is common in any family-like relationship.Feel staff are being judgmental, believing house gossipFrustrated by rules, ex. curfew, inconsistent enforcementResidents: 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 contact10 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.2424
25 Services Education-related Employment-related Housing-related Financial assistanceGED helpHelp choosing schoolHelp enrolling in schoolEncouragement (pre and during school)School advocacyEmployment-relatedJob listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active)Referrals to job fairsSkills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes)Assistance with employment prerequisitesJob training program (one program stands out)Housing-relatedWeakest service offeredSavings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programsHousing referrals – 5 programs offer some typeAftercare – 5 programsFinancial assistance – 2 programsProgram extensions – 2 programsWe asked youth what services they received, and this is what they told us.The services reflect youth’s primary goals of education, employment, housingThe 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 offeredEducation-relatedFinancial assistanceHelp filling out FAFSAHelp with financial aidGED test feeSchool supplies, uniforms, feesScholarshipsWaive application feesGED helpHelp register for GED testGED practice testHelp choosing schoolFinding schoolsHelp enrolling in schoolNot specifiedVerification letterRegister for classesID and required paperworkApplication processEncouragement – pre and during schoolEncouragement to attend schoolSupport/assistance with schoolworkSchool 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 familyCommunicate with school on youth’s behalfAttend parent meetings at school
26 Services Education-related Employment-related Housing-related Financial assistanceGED helpHelp choosing schoolHelp enrolling in schoolEncouragement (pre and during school)School advocacyEmployment-relatedJob listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active)Referrals to job fairsSkills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes)Assistance with employment prerequisitesJob training program (one program stands out)Housing-relatedWeakest service offeredSavings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programsHousing referrals – 5 programs offer some typeAftercare – 5 programsFinancial assistance – 2 programsProgram extensions – 2 programsEmployment-relatedJob listings, referrals, leadsThis was the employment-related service mentioned most frequently.Is a rather passive serviceJob leads that are more activeStaff develop connections with employersStaff drive participants to turn in applicationsReferrals to job fairsSkills-based servicesPractice/mock interviewsResume helpHelp with job applicationsComputer skillsWorkshopsAssistance with employment prerequisitesPay for classHelp getting fingerprintsApply for work permitReferrals to employment-specific servicesJob training programOne 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 searchAll residents must attend the life skills classes if they are not already working or in schoolCompetitive application process for the job skills phase of the programAt 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.MiscellaneousInterview clothesComplete job log regularly
27 Services Education-related Employment-related Housing-related Financial assistanceGED helpHelp choosing schoolHelp enrolling in schoolEncouragement (pre and during school)School advocacyEmployment-relatedJob listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active)Referrals to job fairsSkills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes)Assistance with employment prerequisitesJob training program (one program stands out)Housing-relatedWeakest service offeredSavings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programsHousing referrals – 5 programs offer some typeAftercare – 5 programsFinancial assistance – 2 programsProgram extensions – 2 programsHousing-relatedWhile 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.SavingsOverwhelmingly, 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 assistanceGED helpHelp choosing schoolHelp enrolling in schoolEncouragement (pre and during school)School advocacyEmployment-relatedJob listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active)Referrals to job fairsSkills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes)Assistance with employment prerequisitesJob training program (one program stands out)Housing-relatedWeakest service offeredSavings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programsHousing referrals – 5 programs offer some typeAftercare – 5 programsFinancial assistance – 2 programsProgram extensions – 2 programsHousing referralsAt 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.AftercareParticipants 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 managersTransportation assistanceApartment furnishingsMaterial 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 assistanceGED helpHelp choosing schoolHelp enrolling in schoolEncouragement (pre and during school)School advocacyEmployment-relatedJob listings, referrals, leads (passive vs. active)Referrals to job fairsSkills-based services (ex. interviews, resumes)Assistance with employment prerequisitesJob training program (one program stands out)Housing-relatedWeakest service offeredSavings – 6 programs have mandatory savings programsHousing referrals – 5 programs offer some typeAftercare – 5 programsFinancial assistance – 2 programsProgram extensions – 2 programsFinancial assistanceParticipants 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 extensionsParticipants 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 assistanceHelp obtaining ID (Social Security card, birth certificate, state ID)Life skillsTeach practical skills and cover personal topics that reflect participants’ needs and life course stageBudgeting/money managementCooking, grocery shoppingHousekeepingHealth (including sexual health)LaundryRelationshipsSocial skillsSubstance abuse preventionTransportationCTA cardsStaff ridesHealthcareOn-site services at 5 programsReferrals to free clinics, Stroger by 4 additional programsChildcareOn-site and referrals by 2 programs (specifically serve parents)Material supportShelter/room and boardFood/groceriesVouchers/gift cardsPantry referralsTangible resourcesClothesHygiene productsFinancial assistanceCash for extra choresStaff members provide money out of pocketExtreme 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 billCase manager was fired when program found outExemplifies familial relationship between staff and participants in some cases and conundrums staff face in working with too few resources to meet participants’ needsHelp getting ID (Social Security card, birth certificate, state ID)ProceduresHelp with covering costLife skillsAll 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 schoolMandatory weekly workshopDesignated life skills coach/counselorFor 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 participantsIn 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 assistanceHelp obtaining ID (Social Security card, birth certificate, state ID)Life skillsTeach practical skills and cover personal topics that reflect participants’ needs and life course stageBudgeting/money managementCooking, grocery shoppingHousekeepingHealth (including sexual health)LaundryRelationshipsSocial skillsSubstance abuse preventionTransportationCTA cardsStaff ridesHealthcareOn-site services at 5 programsReferrals to free clinics, Stroger by 4 additional programsChildcareOn-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 managementCookingHousing relatedApartment huntingHousekeeping, cleaningHealth (includes sexual health)Grocery shoppingLaundryEmployment relatedRelationshipsSocial skillsSubstance abuse relatedParenting skillsMiscellaneous (driving, sewing, taxes, understanding contracts, morals and values, religion, education-related, community skills)TransportationAll 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.HealthcareParticipants 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.ChildcareParticipants in only two programs discussed receiving childcare assistance, not surprisingly, these are the two programs specifically for parentsCombination of on-site services and referrals
32 Positive Assessment of Case Management Youth value concrete assistance of case managersIDApply for TANF/SNAPSchool enrollment, GED application fee, financial aidJob and housing referralsYouth value relational aspects of case managementConfidentiality, trust, honestyHumor, share personal informationAvailableFollow throughHelpful referralsHold youth accountableEmotional support and invested in youthListen to personal problems w/o judgmentHave someone to turn to for help dealing with stressful situations (ex. conflicts with residents)Respect youth’s boundaries, goalsHelps youth stay focused on goalsContributes to youth’s stability in programOne way program provides sense of family, communityContrast to past experiences w/ adultsNOTE: Don’t say each example of concrete assistanceAll 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 SystemCaring and Service QualityYouth 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 HelpfulnessYouth 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 = *).UsefulnessYouth 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/programService Helpfulness:4 items, Range 4-20, high score is good, highest score associated with positive rating of programUsefulness:4 items, Range 4-20, high score is good, highest rating indicates most positive rating of program3333
34 What is Missing: Youth Identify Unmet Needs EducationNeed help identifying, enrolling in, paying for collegeCurrent assistance limited to GED, high schoolCollege opportunitiesEmploymentConnecting to jobs, jobs with career ladders.Need comprehensive job training programs, paid internships, actual jobsInterested 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 positionsLimited assistance programs offer reflects lack of affordable housing in ChicagoYouth’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 HousingImmediate, transitional housingNeed for programs vs. sheltersLack of housing programs for age groupNeed for more “trans-friendly” programsNeed financial security for existing housing programsLonger program staysHousing locations all over the city, currently concentrated in certain neighborhoodsLong-termNeed for low-income, affordable housingUncertainty regarding how youth will afford own apartments after “graduating” from current programsBut 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.
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 skillsMany 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.”3939
40 New Policy ApproachThere 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 youthDifferent youth need different types of support and thus a “one-size-fits-all” approach to homeless youth services is inadequateHomeless 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?