Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Runaway and Homeless Youth: Changing the Discourse by Legitimizing Youth Voice
by Schweitzer, Donald Dale, Ph.D., Portland State University, 2011, 260; 3469173
Abstract (Summary)

Undoubtedly, runaway and homeless youth (RHY) are one of the most vulnerable, yet underserved groups in our country. Well-meaning advocates have developed programs and services in an attempt to remedy this, yet there is little evidence of their effectiveness. Moreover, according to the research literature, a low utilization rate of current services by youth is a major concern. From a constructivist theoretical position, this study posits that the missing element is youth voice and the researcher hired formerly homeless youth to conduct the analysis of focus group data gathered from RHY who were participating in a range of services funded by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. By employing participatory action research (PAR) methods, this study privileges youth voice and asks two research questions; 1) what are current program models doing right with regards to RHY services, and 2) what can be learned by employing youth analysts in research. Findings indicate that how services are offered is as important as what services are offered. Additionally, by privileging youth and providing meaningful participation, youth are exceptionally capable to develop and evaluate services, programs and policy. Youth workers must continue to privilege youth voice if they hope to effect change in the lives of young people. If not, services will continue to play a key role in keeping RHY as one of the most marginalized groups in our society.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jivanjee, Pauline
Commitee: Curry-Stevens, Ann, Keller, Thomas E., Nissen, Laura B., Thompson, Melissa A.
School: Portland State University
Department: Social Work
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work, Public policy
Keywords: Homeless, Homeless youth, Improving homeless services, Participatory action research, Qualitative research, Runaway, Runaway youth, Youth voice
Publication Number: 3469173
ISBN: 978-1-124-84779-5
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