Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rick Weinberg, Ph.D.


community-based interventions for homeless youth, emotion regulation, interventions for homeless youth, school engagement, thematic analysis


Comprehensive, holistic, and individualized interventions for homeless youth are recommended in order to meet the complexity of their needs, but few of such interventions exist. The current study adds to this sparse literature base by examining the effects of a multifaceted, community-based intervention for unaccompanied homeless youth called Starting Right, Now (SRN). SRN provides unaccompanied homeless youth with a broad range of home-, school-, and community-based services in order to meet their unique needs. Previous research has supported the effectiveness of the intervention on participants’ well-being and quality of life. However, the current study was the first to quantitatively examine SRN’s longitudinal impact on mental health (depression, anxiety, and stress), emotion regulation (expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal), and school engagement (cognitive, behavioral, and emotional) during a 12-month period. This study was also the first to utilize mixed method analyses to explore why some participants leave SRN prematurely. Specifically, results indicated youth entering SRN may be experiencing elevated mental health symptoms; increased use of expressive suppression; average use of cognitive reappraisal; and average to decreased school engagement. Further, results from dependent sample t-tests of 19 participants revealed significant decreases in participants’ depression and stress from Time 1 (baseline) to Time 2 (6 months later). Results from dependent sample t-tests of 10 of the 19 participants revealed a significant decrease in behavioral school engagement from Time 2 to Time 3 (12-months). There were no other significant changes in other variables between any other timepoints. There were also no significant differences in Time 1 scores of the variables between participants who persisted in SRN for at least one year and those who dropped out. However, thematic analysis of an interview with an SRN staff member indicated that youth who leave early may have personal histories riddled with trauma, mental health issues, drug use, refusal to attend therapy, and familial dysfunction. Findings of the current study continue to support the implementation and expansion of SRN in order to reduce internalizing symptoms of psychopathology.