Home > Family ‘turning point’ experiences and the process of youth becoming homeless.

Mayock, Paula and Parker, Sarah and Murphy, Andrew (2021) Family ‘turning point’ experiences and the process of youth becoming homeless. Child & Family Social Work, 26, (3), pp. 415-424. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12823.

The role of family environments, where conflict—ranging from disagreements between young people and their parent(s) or carers to home-based circumstances where violence and/or abuse is present—is well documented in research that has examined the causes and correlates of youth homelessness. However, far less attention has focused on how young people themselves frame and understand the significance of family ruptures. This paper examines the family ‘turning point’ experiences embedded in the life stories of homeless youth. The study, which was biographical and longitudinal, aimed to generate an in-depth understanding of the nature of homelessness, how it emerged and its impacts on the lives of young people. Conducted in Ireland, 40 youth aged 16–24 years were recruited at baseline, with all interviews commencing with an invitation to young people to tell their ‘life story’. Analysis of participants' life story narratives revealed three major family turning point experiences associated with parental absence and separation, bereavement and acute interruptions to family life. These turning points, the effects of which had a temporal character, reveal the rippling impact of family ruptures on the lives of young people who embarked on a path of leaving home and becoming homeless. The implications of the findings for enhancing engagement with the families of young people who experience homelessness are discussed.

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