Transitions to Adulthood for Homeless Youth


Background and Focus

Giving a voice to Homeless Adolescents in the Los Angeles Education System. Living on the street has a devastating effect on youth and their ability to transition into adulthood. Residential instability, abuse, neglect, a lack of role models and a host of other factors impact an adolescent’s ability to buld trusting relationships and establish support networks that are necessary for a successful transition into adulthood .The objectives of this project arte to give voice to the experiences of homeless youth and document their lives as they move towards adulthood.

Research Questions

The project focuses on the following research questions:

  • What are the lives of homeless adolescents like?
  • How do homeless youth conceptualize themselves?
  • How do they spend their time?
  • How do they negotiate educational and social barriers?
  • How do they create support systems in and out of school?
  • What are the diffferent factors they prioritize as crucial to their development?

Research Design and Method

The Project has identified four areas within Los Angeles with distinct populations of homeless youth. One predominantly white population resides in Hollywood.A second Latino population is located in the area near MacArthur Park A third, highly African American population resides in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles.The fourth population is foster care youth who are nearing emancipation that are clustered in South Los Angeles. Intervies and observations will be primary methods of data collection.These methods will allow researchers to capture the voice and experiences of homeless youth .


The project spanned 18 months; the initial months focused on gaining entry, identifying stakeholders, and locating participants. A small group of practitioners, policy makers, and researchers served as an advisory board for the project. In the final months of the study the data was used to develop research driven policies regarding how to improve access to education for homeless youth. The findings are presented here: