Intervention research, homeless youth, McKinney-Vento, Advocate


Despite many risk factors, few interventions exist to support youth who are homeless. Theories of resilience and social capital offer support for the development of a school-appointed, homeless, student advocate program. However, these theories do not offer a process or description of activities or qualities of an advocate. This case study is used as an initial step in intervention development. A one-time, focus-group was utilized as a purposeful sample of individuals experienced with supporting homeless youth will be used to create a framework for practice. This study asked the following questions: What is a programmatic framework for a school-appointed homeless advocate program? And what are the qualities and activities of advocate for homeless youth? The findings indicate that what is most important is the qualities that the advocate possesses: who they are, rather than what they do. A framework was developed that demonstrates that the qualities of the individual are the foundation of the advocate, and these qualities cause them to activate others and complete activities focused on the youth, to increase the well-being of the homeless youth.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Author Biography

Dr. Christina L Helfrick

Dr. Helfrick completed her doctoral journey at Millersville university, studying intervention research with the goal of building the social capital of homeless youth in school systems. She has spent nearly a decade in practice as a school social worker. Christina has been working with at-risk children and youth for more than 20 years, with experience that spans the mental health, foster care, homeless, and immigrant serving systems. She is currently the board president for the Pennsylvania Association of School Social Work Personnel, and vice president of Friends of Donegal, a grassroots community collaborative that is addressing poverty and homelessness in the Donegal community. Christina continues to develop Champions for Teens, a homeless advocate program she created through her doctoral research and collaborates with researchers and community members to innovate programs locally and nationally. Dr. Helfrick is currently an assistant profession in the Master of Social Work Program at Lancaster Bible College.

Christina received her Master's in Social Work from Shippensburg University in 2012, and her Bachelor's in Psychology from Penn State University in 2010.