An estimated 50,000 youth in the United States sleep on the streets for six months or more each year. A large number of these homeless youth are young adults turned out of institutional settings, such as foster care. While data on American homeless youth is limited, we do know that many of the 27,000 youth who age out of foster care each year face similar, difficult circumstances. Without a safe place to live or the support of caring adults, they struggle to meet their most basic daily needs. They experience staggering levels of unemployment, undereducation, poor health, early parenthood, poverty, and involvement in the criminal justice system.
To combat these poor outcomes, First Place for Youth has been operating a successful program that combines access to permanent housing, education and employment support for over a decade. We have developed a robust data collection system that houses thousands of detailed records for youth participants. To support the successful development of high impact programs for youth, First Place endeavored to begin answering the question: what contributes to successful outcomes and what are the key program strategies necessary to support these gains?
This paper suggest that a well structured program such as ours, yields strong positive outcomes for youth. We find that youth who stay in program longer are more likely to exist into stable housing and make significant progress in achieving their employment, education, and healthy living goals. This finding holds true for youth who entered program with a variety of risk factors. Additionally, the paper identifies the program practices and policies that support these greater outcomes and ultimately save public resources.