Understanding the Experiences and Characteristics of Teen Families Involved in a Supportive Housing Program

  • Author / Creator
    Tremblay, Melissa
  • This dissertation consists of three papers that describe research using a systems perspective, a strength-based approach, and that capitalize on the existing capacities of teen families. All three papers draw on research from a larger research study that was conducted through a partnership between a research team from the Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families (CUP), the Terra Centre for Teen Parents (Terra), and Brentwood Community Development Group (Brentwood). Partners from Terra, Brentwood, and CUP agreed to pursue two objectives: (1) collaboratively develop a supportive housing model for teen families that could be implemented and studied; and (2) collaboratively investigate the impacts of the model on teen parents and their children.The three papers that make up this dissertation are related to the objectives of the broader research study. Relevant to the first objective, the purpose of the first paper was to describe the processes involved in using community-based participatory research (CBPR) and developmental evaluation (DE) to develop a model of supportive housing for teen families. Overall, developing programming for teen families is a complex task requiring a multi-pronged approach that, with adequate time, pooled resources, and collaboration from researchers and community partners, can successfully involve CBPR and DE as complementary approaches. To the author’s knowledge, the paper provides the first example of how CBPR and DE approaches can be bridged. Insights are offered that will be informative for researchers, evaluators, and practitioners seeking to develop programming in response to complex community issues. Paper 2 built on the premise established in Paper 1 that innovative, collaborative approaches to research are needed in order to enhance understanding of teen families. Within the second broad project objective of investigating the impacts of the Successful Families program on teen families, the purpose of the second paper was to explore what teen parents need in order to help their children grow and develop in healthy ways. Aligned with a CBPR approach, the photovoice method was used to address this purpose. Findings from this study highlighted that teen families have both complex needs and strengths that require relationship-based, trauma-informed, structured supports delivered by non-judgmental staff who respect their independence, supportive landlords, and communities where they can feel safe to raise their children without the burden of stigma and judgment.Within the broader project objective of investigating program impacts, the purpose of the third paper was to describe teen parents’ perspectives on their relationships with their children, resilience, self-esteem, and parenting attitudes, and to describe the development of the children of teen parents involved in the Successful Families program. Extant literature offers limited information in these areas. Therefore, this paper offers a contribution to the literature on the wellbeing of teen parents and development of their children in order to inform service delivery and set the stage for future research. In addition, results reinforced the heterogeneity of teen families, with teen parents and their children showing different areas of strengths and challenges across the domains measured. This suggests that service providers and policymakers should avoid focusing on teen parents as inherently at risk.This dissertation is based on the premise that expanded information about teen families is required in order to best support this population. Thus, all three papers are threaded together by a common goal to enhance understanding of teen parent families in order to mobilize this knowledge for policy and practice, and to ultimately contribute to positive outcomes for teen parents and their children.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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