A test of outreach and drop-in linkage versus shelter linkage for connecting homeless youth to services

Natasha Slesnick, Xin Feng, Xiamei Guo, Brittany Brakenhoff, Jasmin Carmona, Aaron Murnan, Scottye Cash, Annie Laurie McRee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Outreach and service linkage are key for engaging marginalized populations, such as homeless youth, in services. Research to date has focused primarily on engaging individuals already receiving some services through emergency shelters, clinics, or other programs. Less is known about those who are not connected to services and, thus, likely the most vulnerable and in need of assistance. The current study sought to engage non-service-connected homeless youth (N= 79) into a strengths-based outreach and advocacy intervention. Youth were randomly assigned to receive 6 months of advocacy that focused on linking youth to a drop-in center (n =40) or to a crisis shelter (n = 39). All youth were assessed at baseline and 3, 6, and 9 months post-baseline. Findings indicated that youth prefer drop-in center services to the shelter. Also, the drop-in center linkage condition was associated with more service linkage overall (B = 0.34, SE = 0.04, p < 0.01) and better alcohol-l [B = -0.39, SE = 0.09, t(75)= -4.48, p<0.001] and HIV-related outcomes [B=0.62, SE = 0.10, t(78) = 6.34, p < 0.001] compared to the shelter linkage condition. Findings highlight the importance of outreach and service linkage for reconnecting servicemarginalized youth, and drop-in centers as a primary service option for homeless youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-460
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 13 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse Grant No. R34DA032699 to the first author.

Publisher Copyright:
© Society for Prevention Research 2016.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Crisis shelters
  • Drop-in centers
  • Homeless youth
  • Outreach

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