Author's School

Brown School of Social Work

Author's Department/Program

Social Work

Author's Department/Program

Social Work


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Melissa Jonson-Reid


Community-based youth shelters are the primary method of intervention designed to meet the complex needs of at-risk youth who leave home before they have developed the skills to live independently. This research examines shelter users' patterns of cross-sector service use to better understand the needs and resources of shelter residents. The aims of this study are 1) to perform an inter-group analysis, comparing sheltered youth with status offense runaways and foster care runaways, and 2) to explore the population of emergency shelter residents using an intra-group analysis, determining whether distinct profiles of sheltered youth exist, based on individual characteristics and service use patterns over time. The study samples were drawn from a larger longitudinal study of services and outcomes. The samples included subjects born between 1981 and 1992 who were reported for child maltreatment and/or lived in families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children during childhood. For the first Aim, the sample included subjects identified as runaway by the court system: status offense runaways), foster care runaways, and sheltered youth. The sample for the second aim included only sheltered youth. Bivariate analyses found differences between runaway groups in terms of poverty, maltreatment history, school-identified disability, report of neglect, receipt of family services, delinquent offenses, truancy, ethnicity, and parent mental health or substance abuse treatment. Controlling for covariates in the multinomial logistic regression, only age discriminated between all three groups. Just 20% of the sheltered youth ran away from their previous residence or spent time living on the street. Latent class analysis suggests sheltered youth fall into four clearly distinct categories, clearly defined by connection to school and family. These include: 1) a "parent time-out" group: attending school and living with family), 2) a school/behavior problem group: not attending school and living with family), 3) youth in DFS custody placed at the shelter: disconnected from family but attending school), and 4) multi-problem youth: disconnected from both school and family).


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