Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This study used a participatory approach to examine the process and outcomes for young women who entered an emergency shelter. The purpose of this study was to explore differences and similarities between young women from family of origin and young women with child welfare placement experience when they entered the shelter and then again three months later. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. In the quantitative component a series of two factor mixed ANOVA’ s, t-tests, and regressions were conducted on 40 initial interviews and 30 follow-up interviews. The results of these statistical analyses demonstrated that young women from family of origin and young women with in-care involvement differed in measures of individual risk factors and total risk factors, but not family risk factors, with women in-care experience scoring higher. Additionally, problems with substance use were associated with lower outcome scores at follow-up and life satisfaction at time one, and mental health issues were associated with lower life satisfaction scores at time two. Finally, after three months, both groups of women showed significant improvement in obtaining independent housing and social assistance and in life satisfaction. The qualitative component of this study consisted of focus groups, participant observation and interviews that aimed to understand if emergency shelters are empowering settings for young women and to learn more about challenges and struggles they experience in trying to exit from homelessness. Results from the qualitative findings demonstrated that an emergency shelter can facilitate empowerment and buffer risks experienced by homeless young women by helping them become more independent and connected to community resources. The findings were discussed in terms of an ecological-empowerment framework for understanding homelessness. The study is limited as it focused on only one setting. Hence the results might not be generalizable to other shelter settings.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season