Youth Outcomes Project

Youth Outcomes Project

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.

Want to learn more?

Read the report, Measuring Up: Youth-level Outcomes and Measures for System Responses to Youth Homelessness:

View The Report

Webinar Recordings:

View The Recording Here

View The Recording Here

Recommended Outcomes and Measures

Outcome Measure “Core” or “Going further”* Items
Stable housing      
Current housing situation/expected destination Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) data standard (adapted) Core Items: 1
Recent housing instability Team-developed Core Items: 4
Degree of housing instability Residential Time-Line Follow-Back Inventory Going further Items: N/A**
Permanent connections      
Social connections Youth Thrive™ Survey Core Items: 17
Youth connections Youth Connections Scale Going further Items: 43
Enrollment and attendance Team-developed Core Items: 1
Educational attainment American Community Survey (adapted) Core Items: 1
Chronic absenteeism - school systems *** U.S. Department of Education Going further Items: N/A
Income HMIS data standard (adapted) Core Items: 1
Employment status American Community Survey (adapted) Core Items: 8
Disconnected - “Not in Education, Employment, or Training” (NEET) *** Various (e.g., The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and U.S. Department of Education) Core Items: N/A
Social-emotional well-being      
Mental health Mental Health Continuum-Short Form Core Items: 14
Youth resilience Youth Thrive™ Survey Core Items: 10
Psychological distress Kessler-6 Going further Items: 6
Thriving Youth Thrive™ Survey (full instrument) Going further Items: 66
Life skills Ansell-Casey Life Skills Assessment (or Ansell-Casey Life Skills Assessment: Youth Short Assessment) Going further Items: 113 (20)
All Outcome Areas      
Example instrument for core measures Full set of core measures    

* “Core” measures are those recommended at this stage for general uptake across programs and organizations. “Going further” measures are suggested for going deeper into a particular topic area, but they were not prioritized as a “core” measure, often because of the length of the instrument or because it was not prioritized as high as the core measures in the project consultations.

** The Residential Time-Line Follow-Back Inventory involves more of an interview than a scale with items.

***The chronic absenteeism and disconnected measures involve indicators derived from other core measures and therefore do not require additional items.  See full report for details on how these are measured.