Family Interventions for Youth Experiencing or at Risk of Homelessness

Family conflict is a key driver of youth homelessness. Most programs serving youth experiencing homelessness use some form of family intervention to address conflict and help reconnect youth with families when such an approach is deemed appropriate. Yet despite the prevalence of family intervention work, no systematic review has assessed the evidence on family intervention strategies, indicating, for example, which are successful in preventing and addressing youth homelessness, which have limited success, and which show promise but have not yet been rigorously evaluated.

This report summarizes existing evidence on family intervention strategies for youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness gathered through a literature review and conversations with a small set of key informants. It also includes a summary of common elements of effective interventions and a discussion of gaps in the evidence base.

We conclude that research has uncovered a few effective family intervention strategies that provide insight into what makes these strategies successful, but more research is needed to evaluate those targeted specifically to youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness. More research is also needed on how to target family interventions to key subgroups, such as youth who are racial and ethnic minorities and/or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ).

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