Daily Social and Affective Lives of Homeless Youth: What is the Role of Teacher and Peer Social Support?

Youth spend a significant amount of time in school surrounded by and interacting with teachers and peers. For doubled-up homeless youth (i.e., youth who share housing with a series of friends and/or extended family members), in-school relationships may be important for their emotional functioning. The current study captured dynamic processes by which in-school teacher and peer social support (i.e., baseline assessments of prior support and daily early-day reports of school day support) influence homeless youth's daily emotional well-being, as assessed by positive and negative affect later in the day. Specifically, a baseline survey was used in combination with a 10-day twice-a-day diary design to examine the competing influences of prior (i.e., between-person) and daily (i.e., within-person) social support from teachers and peers during the school day.

Baseline teacher support and early-day peer support were associated with higher later-day positive affect. In contrast, baseline peer support was associated with lower later-day negative affect. Baseline peer support moderated the association between early-day peer support and later-day positive affect, in that there was a significant effect of early-day peer support and later-day positive affect for youth who reported medium and high levels of baseline peer support. However, the later-day positive affect of youth who reported low baseline levels of social support did not appear to benefit from early-day peer support.

Results suggest that the source of support (i.e., teacher and peer) differently influences daily affect and that receiving daily in-school support can promote daily positive affect while mitigating negative affect for doubled-up homeless youth. Overall, study findings suggest that providing peer and teacher social support is a promising prevention and intervention approach for fostering resilience among doubled-up homeless youth.


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Science Direct