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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Can fatherhood be a turning-point opportunity for street-involved youth? Drozda, Christopher


Although street-involved youth report pregnancy at higher rates than youth in school, there is almost no research on street-involved teen fathers. This study had two objectives. The first objective was to provide a description of the background and current situations of street-involved youth in Western Canada who were fathers compared to their street-involved peers without children. The second objective was to investigate if fatherhood could be a potential turning-point opportunity for street-involved youth. Research with adolescent street-involved mothers and adolescent fathers has shown that parenthood could reduce alcohol or drug use, increase connection to employment and connection to treatment. The results did not support fatherhood as a potential turning-point opportunity for street-involved youth. Street-involved fathers were almost a year older and were street-involved at a younger age than non-fathers. Almost 20% of fathers reported their children lived with them. Fathers were more likely to report precarious housing, i.e., on the street or in a tent. Street-involved fathers were more likely to have been told they have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Street-involved fathers were less likely to be currently attending school. However, they were more likely to report working in a legal job than non-fathers or to obtain money from income assistance and from being a youth in care than non-fathers. Street-involved fathers reported higher prevalence of recent illicit drug use compared to non-fathers for several drugs, including crystal meth and ketamine. However, street-involved fathers were also more likely to have accessed some form of substance abuse treatment, including detox and inpatient treatment centres. Given their challenges, it was not surprising that street-involved fathers were more pessimistic about their future. They were significantly more likely than non-fathers to expect to be dead in five years. Despite the lack of evidence for fatherhood as a turning-point opportunity for street-involved youth, this study provided descriptions of street-involved fathers’ circumstances that social workers may face when engaging with these young men. Of particular note for further research are fathers whose children live with them. There may be distinct needs for this group which could be addressed through development of services or changes in current programs for street-involved youth.

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