Predictors of Secondary Completion Among Homeless Youth in Three U.S. Cities and the Potential Application of National Policies

Elizabeth Hatch, Kalah Villagrana, Qi Wu, Siobhan Lawler, Kristin Ferguson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose: Secondary education completion rates (i.e., high school diploma or General Education Development [GED]) among homeless youth (HY) are low in comparison with their housed peers. Method: Secondary data with a sample of 429 HY was used from a 3-city study using quantitative retrospective interviews with a purposive sample of601 HY collected from 2010 to 2011 in social service organizations across three U.S. cities (Denver, CO, n = 201; Los Angeles, CA, n = 200; and Austin, TX, n = 200). This study examines risk and resilience factors (i.e., demographics, childhood trauma, transience, mental health diagnosis, incarceration history, employment, and resilience) associated with the completion of secondary education among HY using logistic regression. Results: Secondary completion was positively associated with identifying as female, formal employment, a sense of equanimity, and experiences of childhood emotional abuse. In contrast, secondary completion was negatively associated with a history of incarceration as well as experiences of childhood physical neglect and emotional neglect. Discussion: Recommendations are made for strengthening educational institutions’ capacity to provide the comprehensive support services for HY to minimize risk factors and enhance protective factors. Similarly, the authors highlight how cross-sector collaboration, such as those approaches supported through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act, can be leveraged to minimize significant risk factors and promote resilience factors associated with secondary completion.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)347-359
    Number of pages13
    JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jun 2022


    • Community-school collaboration
    • Drop-out
    • Homelessness
    • Policy
    • Secondary education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Social Sciences(all)


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