2. “Legal” literature
2.1. Youth homelessness in England
2.2. Housing provision for 16/17 years old homeless young people
2.3. Leaving care
3. “Psychological” literature
3.1. Social networks
4.2. Construction of the interview
4.4. The pilot study
4.6. Analysis of the interviews: categorisation of contents
5. Research findings and discussion
Adolescence is a period where important changes occur in the relationship between young people and their parents (Paikoff & Brooks-Gunn, 1991). It seems that as young people try to become more independent the amount of conflict with parents increases (Paikoff & Brooks-Gunn, 1991; Laursen et al., 1998). Conflict levels seem to be higher in middle adolescence and decrease in late adolescence (Paikoff & Brooks-Gunn, 1991; Laursen et al., 1998). However, in some cases the conflict can be so intense that adolescents are evicted from the parental home or leave by their own initiative to avoid or escape the conflict situations and as a result they may become homeless (CHAR, 1996; Ploeg & Scholte, 1997; Smith, 1998; Fitzpatrick, 2000). Some leave their parental homes while they are under the age of 18 years old which means that legally they are still children. Therefore, these adolescents can be accommodated by the Children Services, under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, if considered to be children “in need” according to section 17 of the same act or by the Housing Department as statutory homeless under the Homelessness Act 2002 after their inclusion in the priority list introduced by the The Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002.
Research on the topic of homeless young people found that among this group is possible to find a large number of adolescents that had been looked after by the Local Authorities. This adolescents suffered, in some cases, separations of years and several restrictions in the contact with their natural family. Yet, the Local Authorities still have parental duties regarding them and in most cases they had been accommodated in foster families. This can provide young people leaving care with additional sources of support.
It is often stated in literature that the social networks of homeless young people are poor and that they lack quality supportive links. In a study by Pleace et al. (2008) that looked at families and 16 and 17 years old accepted as homeless, the findings show that the instrumental (practical help in a crisis situation) and emotional (having someone to talk to) support received by 16 and 17 years old is mainly given by friends and family but overall this group is significantly less supported then the national average.
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