In 2017, researchers published a study that found more than 50% of 2,241 youth ages 17-24 accessing homeless services in San Francisco County between 2011 and 2014 had a report to Children Protective Services (CPS) for child abuse or neglect during childhood. For the first time, researchers matched up administrative data from California CPS records and records of homeless youth accessing services.
The study found that “Homeless female youth were significantly more likely to have a CPS history than male youth (58.1% vs. 41.5%). Nearly twice as many Black clients accessing homelessness services had a CPS history as did White clients (59.8% vs. 31.8%). Roughly half (47.3%) of those with a childhood history of reported maltreatment had been last reported for maltreatment in another California county.”
The main limitation of the study is that it probably undercounted the number of homeless youth who had child abuse or neglect reports from childhood as many homeless youth in San Francisco are from out of state. This study did validate that many of the homeless youth in San Francisco are not from the city, but most are from the nearby counties in the Bay Area.
This study indicates that organizations working with foster youth and those working with homeless youth need to be coordinating comprehensive services, particularly in regards to mediating the traumatic effects of child abuse and neglect.
You can find an excellent PowerPoint summary of the preliminary findings here.