Assessing Social Support Predictors, Dissertation Example

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Dissertation

Introduction to the Problem

Homelessness is a serious and far-reaching condition with significant consequences for many population groups. Fortunately, some individuals are able to overcome these circumstances with assistance and support to regain some semblance of normalcy in their lives. In particular, homeless youth experience critical and life-changing challenges in their efforts to acclimate to residential living situations. Homeless youth may be offered a level of support and encouragement in these environments that they have not been accustomed to elsewhere. Therefore, they must rely upon the social resources that are available to achieve their goals and objectives. Social service organizations and resources must address the vulnerability of this population group and the impact that their service offerings might have on youth progress and achievement. It is anticipated that social service resources and organized interventions will provide significant support and guidance for youth who face homelessness because these interventions provide an opportunity to explore options that have not been available in the past to encourage youth growth and maturity in a nurturing environment (Altena et.al, 2010).

Statement of the Problem

The effectiveness of social determinants on homeless youth in their transition to residential living is not well-defined. It is necessary to measure the true impact of these services and support systems in an effort to establish successful results and response efforts for this group. Since homeless youth face transient circumstances and little or no stability in their lives, it is essential that they are provided with social service-based interventions in order to facilitate positive outcomes. The widespread nature of this problem warrants considerable attention and focus as a means of exploring the ability of social determinants to be effective in establishing trust and cooperation during the transition phase.

Background of the Study

Homelessness in the youth population is a serious socioeconomic problem that warrants further attention. This population requires the knowledge, expertise, and guidance of various support systems in order to transition them to residential living in an efficient and supportive manner. Since homeless youth typically do not receive substantial support on the street or in shelters, they require a level of knowledge and understanding that will lead to trust and cooperation in the transition stage.

Significance of the Study

This topic is related to my academic area of interest because it considers the impact of social services and support systems on disadvantaged populations, such as the homeless. The topic requires the development of a hypothesis and a set of research questions that specifically support this population and the issues that they face as they acclimate into residential living. These achievements are critical to their ongoing growth, development, and maturity through adolescence and into adulthood. In addition, this focus is integral to the advancement of primary research regarding the homeless and their needs in reentering the general population.

Rationale

The primary rationale behind the study is to explore the different foundations of social services and support as critical in the transition of homeless youth to a residential living environment. These youth must be provided with a core foundation to improve behaviors, reduce disciplinary activity, and facilitate effective growth and development in the new living environment. These are likely to demonstrate the importance of social services and their impact on homeless youth and their transition to new living conditions.

Goal of the Study and Research Questions

The primary research question is concerned with the following: What are the key predictors of success in the transition of homeless youth to residential living through the utilization of social support services? How are these services utilized in a manner that is cost effective, efficient, and most productive for the needs of this unique population group? In addition, a number of sub-questions should be addressed, such as: How will youth experience a greater sense of caring and understanding from their social networks? How will they acquire much-needed educational opportunities? How will they achieve greater success within their lives and experience a greater sense of accomplishment? Each of these questions is essential in determining how social support advances the opportunities that are available to homeless youth and their transition to residential living.

Assumptions and Limitations

The key assumptions of the study include the following: 1) Responses to the questionnaire instrument will be diverse; 2) It is expected that the objectives of Social Support Theory will be applicable to this study; 3) Homeless youth will have different responses to social determinants and support systems; and 4) The chosen research method will deliver variable results and will determine that a variety of social support determinants are applicable to this study. In addition, the study is self-limiting due to the transient nature of this population, the limited trust that they might have in social service providers, and the lack of understanding of the homeless experience from the sociological and psychological points of view.

Research Literature Review

Introduction

Homeless youth who transition into residential living under specific circumstances are challenged by their new environments and the changes that they face in these settings. Therefore, social services and support systems must focus on supporting youth in these settings so that they are prepared to manage the realities of daily living in different environments (Slesnick et.al, 2009). Many homeless youth experience serious problems in their young lives that are attributed to their circumstances, such as maltreatment in the originating home environment, behavioral problems, and substance abuse (Toro et.al, 2011). These circumstances reflect the necessity to ask pertinent questions regarding the efficacy and appropriateness of social support and its impact on their lives (Toro et.al, 2011). From an evidence-based point of view, there is not a single social support intervention that is applicable to all situations, as a variety of interventions are likely to be useful under different conditions (Altena et.al, 2010). Therefore, it is necessary to address some of these social support interventions as they contribute to the improvement of reintegration efforts for homeless youth into normal environments (Altena et.al, 2010). The utilization of support frameworks is of critical importance to homeless youth; however, the decisions that are made in this area are limited by circumstances and surrounding environments. It is necessary for researchers to take the steps that are necessary to address concerns related to homeless youth and their transition to residential living to influence outcomes in a positive manner.

Homeless youth experience many consequences as a result of their surroundings and require substantial support and assistance in a social context (Aratani, 2009). Legal provisions have been expanded in recent years as a means of accomplishing the desired objectives and in influencing stability in their lives (Aratani, 2009). These populations are particularly vulnerable and are not equipped to enter into assistance programs that are designed for adult participants (Osgood et.al, 2010). In addition, many homeless youth have been victimized and are unable to overcome these circumstances without assistance (Thompson et.al, 2010). Many services are essential to enable these individuals to overcome their current living situations (Thompson et.al, 2010). Social support networks are therefore essential for this group in overcoming their obstacles effectively (Wenzel et.al, 2012). These efforts also influence the potential reduction of high-risk behaviors within this population group (Wenzel et.al, 2012). However, the nature of homelessness appears to be a precursor for high-risk behaviors in many different populations.

Homeless youth learn resiliency at a very early age and adapt effectively to a variety of conditions (Cleverley and Kidd, 2011). However, if they are unable to exercise resiliency, they may be subject to increased risk of depression and even suicide (Cleverley and Kidd, 2011). Many homeless youth experience mental difficulties and require support in a social context to improve outcomes (Edidin et.al, 2012). Homelessness among youth may also lead to other neurological challenges that may require further evaluation and treatment (Edidin et.al, 2012). Therefore, socialization and support systems are essential in promoting prevention of depression and an increased risk of suicide in many youth (Hatzenbuehler, 2011). If these issues are left untreated and social support is not available, serious consequences are inevitable (Hatzenbuehler, 2011). Substance abuse is also a likely indicator of limited or nonexistent social support in homeless youth (Gomez et.al, 2010). Intervention efforts require the support of social networks to ensure that these problems are identified and managed properly (Gomez et.al, 2010).

Theoretical Framework

Many homeless youth are placed into situations where they lack basic human contact, communication, needs for survival (Ferguson et.al, 2012). Social support groups and strategies must be available to ensure that these needs are met more effectively over time (Ferguson et.al, 2012). Established models of intervention include the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model for homeless youth also experiencing different forms of mental illness (Ferguson et.al, 2012). From a social perspective, it is necessary to develop new strategies and improvements that will positively influence homeless youth and transition them to nurturing environments (Barker, 2012). Resources must be readily available to support these youth in their journey towards some degree of normalcy and ongoing support because if these resources are not available, traumatic circumstances may occur (Barker, 2012; Bender et.al, 2013). In addition, traumatic events may include different forms of victimization and subsequent poor outcomes for these youth (Bender et.al, 2013).  The utilization of models and theoretical frameworks provides a basis for the research focus and the protocol that will be identified. The appropriate theories must be applied to advance the research topic and related questions accordingly.

Review of Critical Literature

Homeless youth living on the street may also experience other types of issues, including lack of education and stability in their lives (Rachlis et.al, 2009). At-risk youth in these types of circumstances typically require some type of intervention to overcome these debilitating conditions (Rachlis et.al, 2009). However, the vulnerability and sensitivity of this population group is particularly challenging and requires a research-based approach to reduce violent outcomes and substance abuse amongst this population (Koller et.al, 2012). When research is conducted with this population, there must be particular attention paid to the vulnerability of this population when conducting research-based studies (Koller et.al, 2012). Similarly, it is important to identify areas where safer conditions and positive outcomes might be achieved through interventions such as National Safe Place (Walsh and Donaldson, 2010). In particular, this program supports programmatic efforts that have a positive impact on homeless youth (Walsh and Donaldson, 2010). Nonetheless, it is difficult to create stability for these youth, particularly where youth are concerned (Hallett, 2010). From an educational point of view, additional methods must be considered that will establish directives to improve educational outcomes for these youth (Hallett, 2010).

Homeless youth must also be provided with options to secure a stable living environment (Tevendale et.al, 2011). They must find a way to be integrated into society to obtain a greater sense of normalcy in their lives (Tevendale et.al, 2011). Since homelessness among youth is so significant, it is more important than ever to reduce future risks for this group (Murphy et.al, 2013). Youth must be provided with opportunities to express their views and to be effective contributors to society (Murphy et.al, 2013). Services must be expanded in order to accommodate these children and their long-term needs effectively (Slesnick et.al, 2009). Also, researchers must support the development of new designs to support homeless youth in an effective manner (Slesnick et.al, 2009).

Homeless youth face significant concerns in this type of environment. Therefore, if they transition to a residential environment, support services and guidance must be continuously available to provide them with surroundings that are comfortable and supportive of their specific needs. The appropriate intervention services must be identified and supported by predictors that will facilitate improved outcomes for homeless youth through the transition to residential living over time. Furthermore, it is expected that social support systems will serve as effective forms of intervention to support homeless youth and their needs in an effective manner (Ferguson and Xie, 2008). One area of critical importance is the emotional context of social support and interventions and their impact on homeless youth, particularly in the development of relationships that will have a positive impact on these individuals and their efforts to transition into residential living (Gharabaghi and Stuart, 2010). Therefore, based upon existing predictors of homelessness among today’s youth, there appears to be a greater tendency for some members of this population to be faced with the decision to leave home as a result of poor familial circumstances, abuse, or other problems (Gharabachi and Stuart, 2010). As a result, it is necessary to develop an adaptive framework that will establish social interventions and networks for this population that will be useful in supporting their needs and wants in a positive manner (Tyler and Melander, 2011).

Due to the importance of social networking and communication, homeless youth are likely to experience improved outcomes if they are provided with ongoing support and encouragement from their social contacts, thereby reducing the potential for negative behaviors and outcomes (Tyler and Melander, 2011). It is important for homeless youth to have a greater understanding of social stability and how it impacts their lives (German and Latkin, 2012), along with methods of coping and acceptance (Lee et.al, 2010). Many youth are resilient and are able to survive homelessness, in spite of the lack of stability in their lives (Jones, 2012); however, some youth remain homeless in spite of the opportunities that they are given under different circumstances (Mayock et.al, 2013). Nonetheless, those who are able to overcome homelessness must identify a purpose or meaning within their lives to achieve the level of strength and courage that is necessary to overcome these conditions over the long term (Mayock et.al, 2011).

Epistemological Foundations

The philosophical foundation of positivism is essential to the discussion, whereby social providers of support, knowledge, resources, and guidance to enable specific population groups achieve greater than anticipated outcomes under different environmental conditions, given the knowledge that has been acquired to date. This is an important and meaningful tool to support disadvantaged populations who require social support and assistance in different forms. Several theoretical perspectives should be considered in this discussion, including Resilience Theory, Social Support Theory, and Attachment Theory, all of which support the need for expanded social frameworks to support homeless youth. In this discussion, several assumptions are made in regards to the identification of indicators associated with homeless youth and residential living transitions.

Methodology and Basic Design

A quantitative research method with a correlation design will be employed for the study, which will attempt to address the outcomes of the research hypothesis and the predictors of the study. This methodology has been selected because it offers a means of exploring the dimensions of social support and its impact on homeless youth during their transition to residential living, particularly in cases when this transition is likely to occur.

Measures/Instruments

For the proposed study, a survey instrument will measure the potential effectiveness of social support predictors in transitioning homeless youth to residential living. Along with the survey instrument, secondary data will be derived to support the chosen research focus and purpose. The quantitative nature of the study requires the application of ordinal data, as well as reliability and validity coefficients. This study will ask a series of questions in order to better define how social determinants are used with this sample.

Population and Sample

For the proposed study, a population group of approximately 50-80 persons is appropriate in order to accomplish the desired study objectives. This number of participants and their feedback as measured through data analysis will also contribute to the development of new ideas and approaches to promoting improved social services and support systems for disadvantaged populations who would otherwise not have the type of assistance that is required to gradually overcome adversity and to be acclimated into new environments. In order to evaluate the chosen population group and sample, regression analysis will be conducted, with data derived and tabulated into table format for further analysis and discussion of the key variables and findings.

Conclusions

It is anticipated that the proposed research study will explore the key indicators of social support that associated with homeless youth and their transition to residential living. Based upon the proposed research methodology and literature review, this population is high risk and must be addressed in a careful and protective manner at all phases of the study. In accordance with study-related objectives, the researchers will employ data collection and analysis techniques that will provide optimal data and participant protection in order to achieve the desired study results at all phases.

References

Altena, A. M., Brilleslijper-Kater, S. N., & Wolf, J. R. (2010). Effective interventions for homeless youth: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 38(6), 637-645.

Aratani, Y. (2009). Homeless children and youth: causes and consequences. National Center for Children in Poverty, 1-14.

Barker, J.D. (2012). Social capital, homeless young people and the family. Journal of Youth Studies, 15(6), 730-743.

Bender, K.A., Thompson, S.J., Ferguson, K.M., Yoder, J.R., and Kern, L. (2013). Trauma among street-involved youth. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, doi: 10.1177/1063426613476093

Cleverley, K., and Kidd, S.A. (2011). Resilience and suicidality among homeless youth. Journal of Adolescence, 34(5), 1049-1054.

Edidin, J.P., Ganim, Z., Hunter, S.J., and Karnik, N.S. (2012). The mental and physical health of homeless youth: a literature review. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 43(3), 354-375.

Ferguson, K. M., & Xie, B. (2008). Feasibility study of the social enterprise intervention with homeless youth. Research on Social Work Practice18(1), 5-19.

Ferguson, K.M., Xie, B., and Glynn, S. (2012). Adapting the individual placement and support model with homeless young adults. Child & Youth Care Forum, 41(3), 277-294.

German, D., and Latkin, C.A. (2012). Social stability and health: exploring multidimensional social disadvantage. Journal of Urban Health, 89(1), 19-35.

Gharabaghi, K., and Stuart, C. (2010). Voices from the periphery: prospects and challenges for the homeless youth service sector. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(12), 1683-1689.

Gomez, R., Thompson, S.J., and Barczyk, A.N. (2010). Factors associated with substance use among homeless young adults. Substance Abuse, 31(1), 24-34.

Hallett, R.E. (2010). Homeless: how residential instability complicates students’ lives. About  Campus, 15(3), 11-16.

Hatzenbuehler, M.L. (2011). The social environment and suicide attempts in lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Pediatrics, 127(5), 896-903.

Jones, L. (2012). Measuring resiliency and its predictors in recently discharged foster youth. Journal of Child and Adolescent Social Work, 29, 515-533.

Koller, S.H., Raffaelli, M., and Carlo, G. (2012). Conducting research about sensitive subjects: the case of homeless youth. Universitas Psychologica, 11(1), 55-65.

Lee, B.A, Tyler K.A., and Wright, J.D. (2010). The new homelessness revisited. Annual Review of Sociology, 36, 501-521.

Mayock, P., Corr, M.L., and O’Sullivan, E. (2013). Moving on, not out: when young people remain homeless. Journal of Youth Studies, 16(4), 441-459.

Mayock, P., O’Sullivan, E., and Corr, M.L. (2013). Young people existing homelessness: an exploration of process, meaning and definition. Housing Studies, 26(6), 803-826.

Murphy, C.M., Bassuk, E.L, Coupe, N., and Beach, C.A. (2013). Strategies for ending Homelessness among children and families. Child and Family Advocacy, 73-89.

Osgood, D.W., Foster, E.M., Courtney, M.E. (2010). Vulnerable populations and the transition to adulthood. The Future of Children, 20(1), 209-229.

Rachlis, B.S., Wood, E., Zhang, R., Montaner, JSG, and Kerr, T. (2009). High rates of homelessness among a cohort of street-involved youth. Health & Place, 15(1), 10-17.

Slesnick, N., Dashora, P., Letcher, A., Erdem, G., & Serovich, J. (2009). A review of services and interventions for runaway and homeless youth: Moving forward. Children and youth services review31(7), 732-742.

Tevendale, H.D., Comulada, W.S., and Lightfoot, M.A. (2011). Finding shelter: two-year Housing trajectories among homeless youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 49(6), 615-620.

Thompson, S.J., Bender, K., Windsor, L., Cook, M.S., and Williams, T. (2010). Homeless youth: characteristics, contributing factors, and service options. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 20(2), 193-217.

Toro, P.A., Lesperance, T.M., and Braciszewski, J.M. (2011). The heterogeneity of homeless youth in America: examining typologies.

Tyler, K.A., and Melander, L.A. (2011). A qualitative study of the formation and composition of social networks among homeless youth. Journal of the Society for Research on Adolescence, 21(4), 802-817.

Walsh, S.M., and Donaldson, R.E. (2010). Invited commentary: National Safe Place: meeting the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(5), 437-445.

Wenzel, S., Holloway, I. Golinelli, D., Ewing, B., Bowman, R., and Tucker, J. (2012). Social networks of homeless youth in emerging adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(5), 561-571.

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