Responding to the needs of youth who are homeless: Calling for politicized trauma-informed intervention

Trauma in the lives of youth who are homeless is a pervasive reality. In this article, a politicized understanding of trauma is taken up to explore the complex psychological, relational, and social/political challenges experienced by many young persons facing homelessness. Their needs are contrasted with the dominant framework for assessing and addressing homelessness among youth, which fails to adequately account for the effects of trauma in their lives. The authors argue for therapeutic approaches to address the negative effects of trauma; development of community services that adequately respond to the consequences of traumatic life experiences; and socially responsible policies that ensure provision of adequate services and also aim to address root causes of youth homelessness. While current conceptualizations of trauma-informed services go some distance toward achieving these goals, the authors argue that it is only by taking up a more radical understanding of trauma that interventions will be employed to better achieve these targets. Toward this end, the authors introduce a framework that integrates the SPECs model (Evans & Prilleltensky, 2007; Prilleltensky, 2005) with trauma-informed service provision, thereby infusing a social and political analysis to guide more effective trauma-informed solution building in response to the issue of youth homelessness.

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Children and Youth Services Review