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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Characteristics of homeless youth attending two different youth drop-in centers
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Services for homeless youth traditionally provided shelter and nourishment but do little to break the cycle of homelessness. A more comprehensive approach to serve homeless youth is the drop-in center model that provides safe and easy-to-find facilities within communities to bridge the gap between the streets and transitional/permanent housing. Research describing homeless youth who utilize drop-in centers is lacking. This study examines characteristics/preferences of 96 homeless adolescents attending one of two drop-in centers in Southern California. Homeless youth reported high prevalence of risk behaviors regardless of the center of attendance. Furthermore, our analyses revealed significant differences related to demographics, sexual risk behaviors, and substance use between homeless youth at the two drop-in centers. These findings illuminate the specific characteristics and preferences of homeless youth who attend drop-in centers and can be used to inform providers, advocates, and policy makers.
Youth and Society