The book contains four sections covering a range of topics that service providers inquire about most often.

Part 1: Approaches and Interventions describes specific approaches to addressing the mental health and substance use challenges of youth experiencing homelessness. Topics include the community reinforcement approach and motivational enhancement therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, mindfulness approaches, trauma-informed care, ecologically based family therapy, and crisis response.

Part 2: Specific Groups reflects the diversity among youth experiencing homelessness. While many of the interventions and approaches described in this book may be relevant across groups, we need to pay attention to the unique needs of LGBTQ2S, Indigenous, newcomer, and black youth, as well as mothers with children in their care, and youth who are transitioning out of homelessness. We also discuss service providers as a specific group, one that needs support around preventing the burnout that is common in doing this challenging work.

Part 3: Contexts and Considerations focuses on where and how interventions are delivered. The two most common intervention contexts—drop-in centres and outreach—are the focus of the first two chapters. Other topics include supported employment, arts-based approaches, peer support, digital technologies for engaging youth, interagency partnerships, and interventions in developing countries.

Part 4: Assessment and Evaluation aims to support service providers who are increasingly required to provide outcome evidence in order to obtain funding and to inform service improvement and resource allocation. The first chapter describes system-level assessment tools for guiding decisions about how to allocate scarce resources such as housing. The second chapter guides service providers in thinking through how they can best capture the processes and outcomes of their work. We close with an afterword written by a young person with lived experience of homelessness.

Our hope is that the approaches described in this book will inform your work in the field. We encourage you to engage with colleagues around needs assessments within your organizations to determine a good starting point. Everyone involved could use this guide in the planning process, thinking through the recommendations, implementation considerations, and staff models and partnerships that are necessary to deliver and sustain interventions for youth experiencing homelessness.

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