National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

A Social Capital Approach to Identifying Correlates of Perceived Social Support Among Homeless Youth

Barman-Adhikari, A.,
Bowen, E.,
Bender, K.,
Brown, S.,
Rice, E.
Year Published: 2016
Journal Article
Journal Name: 
Child and Youth Care Forum
Volume: 45

Issue: 5

This journal article describes a study that sought to characterize the social support networks of homeless youth and identify salient correlates of these different sources of social support. The authors recruited a sample of 1,046 youth, ages 13 to 24, from three homeless youth drop-in centers in Los Angeles. The participants completed a computerized self-administered survey and a social network interview. The researchers examined whether homelessness backgrounds, victimization experiences, and risky behaviors were associated with different emotional and instrumental forms of social capital. They defined social capital as the ability of homeless youth to accumulate resources through their personal relationships. Among this sample, the rates of emotional support were greater than instrumental support; however, the rates of overall social capital were low, with only about 25 percent reporting support from any one source. These findings suggest the need for careful consideration of support systems when providing services to homeless youth. Specifically, it may be important to assess the common supports used by youth to help them develop and maintain their social networks. (author abstract modified)

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