1.4 Trauma-Informed Care for Street-Involved Youth

Youth homelessness is a major public health problem that garnered increased interest and focus in recent years in Canada and the United States. The connections between youth homelessness and child welfare, foster care, and juvenile justice have been well established (Bender, Yang, Ferguson, & Thompson, 2015; Dworsky & Courtney, 2009; Zlotnick, 2009). Similarly, service providers and policy makers have become aware of the high rates of homelessness among sexual and gender minority youth and among young people of colour (Corliss, Goodenow, Nichols, & Austin, 2011; Keuroghlian, Shtasel, & Bassuk, 2014). Youth who experience homelessness also have high rates of traumatic stress and the mental health consequences that result from physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences (Whitbeck, Hoyt, Johnson, & Chen, 2007; Wong, Clark, & Marlotte, 2016). Despite these high rates of traumatic exposure among young people experiencing homelessness, service providers often feel ill-equipped to understand and respond to the trauma-related needs of the young people they serve. This chapter reviews trauma and youth homelessness, discusses specific strategies to implement trauma-informed care in service settings, and provides excerpts of interviews with youth and service providers that illustrate the challenges these youth face and how trauma-informed services address their unique needs.

Sean Kidd, Natasha Slesnick, Tyler Frederick, Jeff Karabanow, Stephen Gaetz
Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press