A book chapter from Youth Homelessness in Canada: Implications for Policy and Practice
by Daphne Winland
Young people become homeless largely because of challenges they experience within their families. Conflicts – whether related to abuse, mental health, or addictions issues of young people or family members – often lead young people to the streets. While for many homeless youth, relations with family members are profoundly damaged and irredeemable, this paper argues for an approach to working with street youth that focuses on the potential role of family in helping young people make a healthy transition to adulthood. The role of family in solutions to youth homeless in Canada is largely ignored by youth services in favour of those that develop self-sufficiency and independence. Supportive relationships are key to self-sufficiency and family can play an important role in that process. A system-wide prevention strategy that incorporates programs that mediate and/or resolve family conflict must include the possibility for family reconnection.