Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Bret Kloos

Abstract

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that there are 31,062 unaccompanied homeless youth living in the U.S.. Simultaneously, approximately 250,000 youth exit the foster care system each year, many of whom have little support for a successful transition. Research has shown that emerging adults, who exit foster care by aging out, have an increased chance of homelessness. These youths’ victimization experiences, particularly those leading to child welfare involvement and subsequently foster care, may increase their chances of difficulties with regard to homelessness. In addition to their increased vulnerability and risk of homelessness, race is a compounding factor particularly given the increased risk for child welfare involvement and homelessness for youth of color. Using a sample of 100 previously foster care youth between the ages of 18 and 24 who experienced homelessness in South Carolina, the current research examined the role of race and victimization experience on homelessness outcomes. Results showed trend-level significant findings which indicated that White youth experienced longer lengths of time receiving homeless housing and/or shelter-based services and a greater number of times receiving homeless housing and/or shelter-based services, compared to Black youth. The study found no significant relationship between victimization and homelessness outcomes. This study highlights a crucial need in this field of research, namely, the necessity for methodological improvements surrounding the collection of youth homelessness and victimization information by state-run agencies.

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