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Street Outreach Project

This project was developed to address the lack of systematic descriptive information among isolated youth experiencing homelessness in 11 cities (New York City, Washington DC, Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, Omaha, Port Saint Lucie, Austin, Tucson, San Diego, and Seattle). The project goal was to “inform service design to better meet the needs of street youth who obtain and access services through street outreach programs”. The project investigators used Respondent Driven Sampling methods to recruit interview participants. The onsite research teams recruited initial “seed” respondents between the ages of 14-21 years who were experiencing homelessness. Initial seeds were reimbursed with a $20 gift card for their interview and then were asked to give three recruitment “coupons” to other homeless youth that they know. Questionnaires were administered via computer assisted personal interviews. These interviewers were conducted in private rooms. Interviewers read most questions aloud to the participant and recorded their responses in Voxco survey software. A short series of especially sensitive questions were not read aloud by the interviewer. Rather, for these “self-administered” questions, the interviewer gave the computer to the respondent to read the questions silently to himself or herself (or to listen to the question read aloud via headphones) and click on his or her response choice. The questionnaires included questions about service needs, service access, service utilization, life history, feelings, and drug use. After each interview, project staff synchronized the Voxco survey software, which uploaded the completed interview to a secure University of Nebraska-Lincoln server that is only accessible by certain project staff members. Focus groups were used to obtain richer qualitative information regarding homeless history, personal characteristics, future goals, and service utilization. Two project interviewers served as moderators for the four focus groups, which lasted about one hour on average. Focus groups were recorded on a digital audio recorder and sent back to the University of Nebraska for transcription. Because this project was a government contract, data is not available for peer-reviewed publication.

US Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Commissioner:; Administration on Children, Youth & Families, under the direction of Caryn Blitz.

The leader of this work at REACH is Les Whitbeck, with help of Devan Crawford and Melissa Welch-Lazoritz.

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