Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.


homeless youth; unaccompanied youth; reflections from homeless youth; interventions for homeless youth; community-based interventions; thematic analysis


Although interventions that take an individualized, holistic approach to service delivery have been recommended for homeless youth, few such interventions have been described in the literature. This study sought to examine a unique, multi-faceted, community-based intervention developed in 2009 in Tampa, FL to provide services to homeless adolescents who are no longer living in the custody of a parent or guardian (i.e. unaccompanied youth). The intervention, titled Starting Right, Now (SRN), has served over 100 youth to date. The program provides residential, educational, recreational, and professional development services, as well as mental and physical health care. Each youth also receives a trained mentor who is in frequent contact with the youth. Other individualized services are provided as needed. Although SRN has been in existence for six years, the program has only been evaluated using measures such as changes in GPA, absentee rates, etc. In the current study, individual interviews with nine program participants who had been in SRN for at least one year were analyzed to explore how the youth themselves perceived that their lives had been impacted. Thematic analysis of interviews provided an opportunity to examine common themes among participants. Results showed that despite encountering some challenges, participants perceived that they had been lifted to higher educational and personal levels through obtainment of resources; adult and peer support systems; renewed trust in adults; increased hope; improved mental health; and a heightened sense of community. Practical implications for practice and research are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons