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Cityscape: Volume 20 Number 3 | Developing a Coordinated Youth Housing Stability Program for Juvenile Courts


Youth Homelessness

Volume 20, Number 3

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Developing a Coordinated Youth Housing Stability Program for Juvenile Courts

Sarah Cusworth Walker
University of Washington School of Medicine

Esteban Valencia
University of Washington School of Medicine

Asia Bishop
University of Washington

Michael Irons
Snohomish County Juvenile Court

Arina Gertseva
Washington State Center for Court Research

Homeless youth engaging in street survival behaviors are at higher risk of justice involvement. Advocates for reducing youth homelessness have called on the juvenile justice system and allied system partners to minimize the legal consequences of these behaviors and to improve systemic responses to identifying and reducing homelessness. The current study used a community-based participatory approach to develop a model for reducing homelessness from within the juvenile justice system. This mixed methods study leveraged a research-practice partnership between university researchers and a midsized county court in Washington State to examine data from local juvenile filings in 2017, (n=555), statewide juvenile court data from 2016-17, (n=6,791/6,866), and qualitative data from workgroup meetings. Prevalence statistics suggest 20-50 percent of the youth filed in juvenile court had at least one prior episode of running away or being kicked out of the home. Key qualitative findings included tensions around the role of probation in addressing youth homelessness, the need for better methods of identification, and a lack of intensive family-based services targeted at preventing housing instability. The resulting juvenile court based model for addressing youth homelessness is presented and lessons learned from the research-practice partnership are discussed.

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