What is the Youth Outcomes Project?
The Youth Outcomes Project (YOP), a collaboration between Youth Collaboratory, Chapin Hall, multiple federal agencies and a number of leading researchers, practitioners, philanthropists, and youth with lived experience, provides guidance and promotes consensus on what and how to measure within the four broad core outcome areas identified in the USICH Framework to End Youth Homelessness.
Why is the Youth Outcomes Project Needed?
In 2011, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), in collaboration with eight multiple federal agencies, developed a systematic framework for ending youth homelessness, which incorporated four core outcome areas. The framework includes stable housing as a core outcome area, but also includes permanent connections, social-emotional well-being, and education and employment as core outcome areas. However, there is no consensus about how to evaluate how well our services are impacting these outcomes. Additionally, there are glaring gaps in what and how to measure these outcomes on a programmatic level. Inconsistent measures across programs and communities limit the ability to evaluate systems and make coordination with systems and policy-makers challenging.
What did our research process find out? What did we accomplish?
In the work to end youth homelessness, there is general agreement that young people need stable housing, permanent connections, education and/or employment, and an overall sense of well-being to succeed and thrive—and to make sure they never experience homelessness again. For each core outcome area, the report provides a brief context on the importance of the outcome area and recommendations of top core outcomes that we suggest be tracked commonly across communities in system-level efforts to end youth homelessness, along with corresponding best-available measures. We also present suggested options and resources for communities and programs that want to “go farther” in youth outcomes measurement for each domain.
Furthermore, we provide additional considerations for measurement and tracking based on the wisdom provided by the focus groups. Their insights speak to the difficulties, unique local needs, and challenges communities will have to consider, as well as reinforce the collective value and importance of all of us doing this work better.
Why is this research effort important?
This initiative provides a set of metrics for communities that can help facilitate consistent data collection related to core outcomes for youth experiencing homelessness across programs and organizations, regardless of their funding source. This is a starting point rather than an endpoint. We need to collectively continue to improve the experience, evidence, and tools for youth outcomes measurement. This represents an important step forward.
Common outcomes measurement across a community continuum is important for communities and agencies to move toward an outcomes-driven, system-level approach to youth homelessness rather than a programs-driven response. The work to build outcomes-driven systems and services isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort and investment.
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