Last updated on March 2019

Generating Evidence for a Support Package to Stabilize Youth Trajectories Out of Homelessness

Brief description of study

This project builds upon initial proof of concept work examining the optimal set of supports for youth who have recently exited homelessness - an intervention comprised of mental health and peer supports alongside transitional case management. This collaborative model will be tested as a proof-of-concept in Thunder Bay with Indigenous youth and a trial will be conducted in Toronto to optimize and determine the effectiveness of the existing model of support.

Detailed Study Description

In response to the challenges outlined above, and with the support of a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services, the investigators developed and tested a tertiary prevention strategy called the Housing Outreach Program Collaborative (HOP-C) which launched in the summer of 2015. In this approach the investigators focused on collaborations and interventions that have the greatest potential to be effective with this population. The investigators brought together partners from a number of sectors in the GTA and have tested a 3-pronged set of supports (intervention described in detail in the methods):

  • Transitional Case Management
  • Mental Health Interventions: Group, individual, family
  • Peer Support This is an intensive, 6-month critical time intervention - one that jointly addresses many points of vulnerability (mental health crises, housing instability, justice involvement) while fostering resilience and connection with resources in employment, education and training domains. It is unique in both content comprehensiveness and integrated process of delivery. Also important was the development of a collaborative and responsive partnering process, to facilitate effective organizational interfaces and seamless service integration so participants can experience a tailored and coherent set of supports. With CAMH, the Centre for Mindfulness Studies, Covenant House, LOFT, and SKETCH at the service level and the Wellesley Institute leading evaluation, the investigators have carefully attended to a collective impact framework.

This initiative has proven feasible and is demonstrating good outcomes - with excellent youth engagement, reports of lower social isolation, improved mental health, and engagement with resources, and spin-off benefits of closer collaboration between organizations. The investigators successfully met the target of youth engagement, with a total of 31 youth participating, minimal attrition (n=2), and the investigators observed no indications that HOP-C resulted in risk of any form, both with respect to the intervention itself and the mixed methods research methodology. This promising feasibility work formed the foundation from which the investigators were successful in obtaining a grant from the Local Poverty Reduction Fund to support the study described in this proposal.

Current Project Determine through a randomized trial in Toronto if the positive outcomes the investigators are observing are due solely or primarily to transitional case management and if the additional peer and mental health components are necessary.

Engaging in intensive, tertiary prevention shows clear promise in disrupting a cycle of poverty and marginalization at a critical time - if proven and scaled a key driver of chronic homelessness would be addressed.

Research Questions The objective of this two-part project is to examine the effectiveness and transferability of the Housing Outreach Program-Collaboration (HOP-C) transitional intervention. HOP-C has proven to be feasible with promising outcomes in the Toronto proof-of-concept work currently underway.

  1. Are the benefits of the complex HOP-C intervention with all components in place greater than transitional case management in isolation?

It is hypothesized that the full model will provide benefit in domains of housing stability, mental health, and quality of life that are significantly greater than case management alone.

The investigators have data in hand from their recent national work in the area which provides data on 'treatment as usual' or the outcomes that attend typically available supports. The proposed trial will unpack benefit and be essential in economic and viability arguments to be made going forward.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03277794

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