While other children have parents that they can live with and are willing to pay for their college tuition, youth in care have no one. Renting an apartment with no parent to co-sign a lease, finding money for a security deposit, and getting to work or school without money for transportation, and being able to feed themselves in the absence of a job, are several of the obstacles care leavers confront. As a result, many care leavers confront negative outcomes, primarily homelessness (Barth, 1996).
In his study on the demographics of homelessness, Barn (2001) indicated that youth homeless was not an ethnic minority problem but a predominantly economic one. Wright's (2002) findings are consistent with Barn's (2002) conclusions. Commander (2002) and Mendes and Moslehuddin (2006) concur, emphasising that the demographics suggest that youth homelessness cuts across ethnic groupings but not economic ones. Nevertheless, they contend that the demographics reveal a more important commonality between the homeless youth. Specifically stated, the greater majority of the homeless across the United Kingdom are care leavers. Indeed, both studies independently maintain that incidents of hopelessness amongst domiciled youth are rare.
2.2 Homelessness: The Risk Factors
In a cross-cultural study, Kurtz, Jarvis, and Kurtz (1991) identified five causes of homelessness. First, youth who are already members of homeless families are often separated from them because many shelters do not serve older youth. Youth from homeless families may be placed in foster care or emergency shelter system and consequently experience disintegration of ties with their families. Some studies, according to Pain and Francis (2004) suggested that as much as one-third of Britain's total homeless and in-care youth population came from homeless families, or ones which had simply disintegrated due to divorce or the death of the bread winner. Smith (2005), however, puts the figure at closer to 40%, adding that mental instability/problems in one of the parents as a leading predicator of homelessness and familial disintegration.
A second reason for youth homeless is physical and sexual abuse (Pain and Francis, 2005). Kurtz et al. (1991) and Pain and Francis (2005) suggested the third reason is because youth are thrown or pushed out of their homes by parents or guardians. A fourth group of homeless are those that are removed from homes at an early age because of family abuse, neglect, or unwillingness or inability to care for them. They are taken into state custody and become foster youth. The fifth group of homeless youth are members of minority groups who have immigrated to Great Britain, whether legally or as illegal asylum seekers, and are attempting to make themselves inconspicuous.