Few studies have examined the quality of the services in these settings and their potential contributions to positive youth development. Gwadz and her team will focus on a network of settings in New York State, the first state to enact its own legislation for runaway and homeless youth.Runaway and homeless youth represent a highly vulnerable and growing population. A substantial number of specialized settings have emerged to house and support these youth. There are also services to help them obtain secure and permanent housing, manage crises, and develop goals. These settings are diverse and include short- and long-term shelters, host homes, and drop-in centers. Few studies, however, have examined the quality of the services in these settings and their potential contributions to positive youth development. To investigate these issues, Gwadz and her team will focus on a network of settings in New York State, the first state to enact its own legislation for runaway and homeless youth. The research team will use the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) , to assess the settings. The research team will evaluate which characteristics of the programs (e.g., safety, support, and engagement) and the organizations (e.g., access, youth-centered policies and practices, and youth and staff expectations) make the greatest contributions to positive adaptation among runaway and homeless youth, as well as gaps in services and how organizations can be improved. The study will focus on runaway and homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 21, who are the primary users of such organizations. Investigators will engage youth, executive directors, and staff from 27 randomly selected diverse settings that offer long-term programs for runaway and homeless youth, including those in urban, rural, and suburban locations. At each site, the research team will conduct observations to assess each setting’s level of safety, support for youth and staff, engagement, and interactions among and between peers and staff, and approximately 30 youth, the executive director, and 3–5 staff members will be interviewed about program quality and characteristics. Youth at a subset of 10 settings will also participate in focus groups to probe their perceptions of facilitators of and barriers to services.
How do long-term care facilities for runaway, homeless youth promote positive development?