Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Homeless Students in Schools: A Multi-Tiered System of Support Framework

The number of homeless youth in the U.S. has reached an all-time high and this represents a growing social problem. Research indicates that homeless youth are significantly at-risk for experiencing a range of negative life-outcomes such as school dropout, the development of mental health problems, use/abuse of illicit substances, suicidality, and even early mortality. Thus, effective interventions and mental health supports are needed to help address their complex mental health needs. Fortunately, however, many homeless youth regularly attend school, especially younger youth (i.e., under 13 years old) and youth who are members of homeless families. Therefore, as important members of school communities, school-based mental health professionals can help support these students. With this aim in mind, this paper discusses the use of a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework to meet the mental health needs of homeless students in schools. More specifically, following a public health service delivery model, service delivery is discussed at universal, selective, and indicated levels. Lastly, to address the diverse needs of homeless students, integrated service-delivery across various systems of care is discussed.

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Children and Youth Services Review