Learning what works and what does not in family intervention is vital to ending youth homelessness, and providers shared the following important lessons based on their many years of experience:
- Family intervention is almost always appropriate, and families should be seen as a valuable part of the solution to youth homelessness.
- Early intervention is critical for keeping youth at home safely, or reuniting them quickly, with families.
- Family intervention models are wide-ranging and flexible and can include early intervention, quick reunification, or just reconnection and improved relationships for youth who don’t return home to live.
- Practical considerations of a family’s material circumstances are required to effectively facilitate family intervention.
- Outcome measures vary and include those focused on process (participation in services) and those measuring entry into (or return to) shelter.
This paper, part of a series, emerged from the National Alliance to End Homelessness Practice Knowledge Project. The Alliance, in partnership with Funders Together to End Homelessness and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and with the support of the Raikes Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust, periodically convened insightful and experienced practitioners with a goal of identifying those approaches most likely to succeed in reducing the number of homeless youth. Following up on these in-person sessions, conference calls were held with urban, rural and suburban practitioners to examine in greater depth some of the strategies identified as holding particular promise to end youth homelessness. On such strategy was family intervention, and the Alliance and its national partners subsequently convened a discussion with homeless youth providers utilizing a wide variety of family intervention strategies, as well as a prominent family intervention researcher. The findings were documented and reviewed by participants, resulting in this paper.