National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Strengths-based Outreach and Advocacy for Non-service-connected Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Slesnick, N.,
Van Hest, E.
Year Published: 2018
Book Chapter
Book Title: 
Mental Health and Addiction Interventions for Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Practical Strategies for Front-line Providers
Book Author(s)/Editor(s): 
Kidd, S.
Slesnick, N.
Frederick, T.
Karabanow, J.
Gaetz, S.
Toronto, Canada: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press

This book chapter describes a strengths-based outreach and advocacy intervention for homeless youth who are not connected to services. Research suggests that less than 10 percent of homeless youth are connected to services. This means that much less is known about this population than is known about homeless youth who access services such as shelters and drop-in centers. Service-disconnected youth have more unmet needs and more severe substance use and mental health problems. Efforts to connect youth to services are essential to prevent a range of public health consequences associated with homelessness, including premature death. Key components of strengths-based outreach and advocacy include a dual focus on youth and environment; use of paraprofessional personnel; focus on youths' strengths rather than deficits, and giving youth a high degree of responsibility in directing and influencing the intervention they receive. Initial research indicates that a strengths-based outreach and advocacy intervention can be effective with homeless youth. The relationship between advocate and youth is key to success and is an important focus.    

Available for download free of charge from the Homeless Hub, a service of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness at