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Runaway Youth System Dynamics: A Theoretical Framework for Analyzing Runaway and Homeless Youth Policy

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About the Course:

Systems dynamics models help explain why intuitive, well-intentioned solutions to social problems go awry when introduced into complicated social systems. In this article, the author develops a dynamic model, applying it to runaway and homeless youth behavior and shelter usage. Together, the model and supporting evidence imply that simple linear thinking may guide policy expansion to the detriment of homeless youth. Shelters provide incentives for other service systems to neglect difficult cases, which raises serious questions about the efficacy of the shelter system. This model provides common ground upon which practitioners, administrators, policymakers, and research communities can consider the impact and effectiveness of policy and service. Furthermore, the model challenges these communities to bring dynamic system considerations to their work.

I. Forrester’s Framework of System Dynamics and Its Relevance to Social Science
II. The Legislative Framework and Mental Model of Behavior it Assumes
III. Social System Theory and the Runaway Problem: Constructing a Complex Model
IV. The Difficulties of Data Collection under the Framework
V. Current Evidence of the Dynamics of the System
VI. Implications for Practice Policy, and Research
VII. Conclusion

This course is based on the reading-based online, Runaway Youth System Dynamics: A Theoretical Framework for Analyzing Runaway and Homeless Youth Policy created by Karen M. Staller, PhD, JD


Families in Society (Alliance for Children and Families)

Publication Date:

2004/ Vol. 85, No. 3

Course Material Author

Karen M. Staller, PhD, JD

Assistant Professor
University of Michigan School of Social Work

Course Creator

Keith Gibson, Ph.D.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other human services and behavioral health professionals who seek knowledge about runaway and homeless youth. It is appropriate for participants with intermediate to advanced levels of knowledge about the topic.

Course Objectives:

  1. describe how a dynamic systems model can be applied to runaway and homeless youth behavior and shelter usage.

  2. identify potential drawbacks of the youth shelter system and ways that the dynamic sysytems model might improve the impact and effectiveness of policy and service.

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American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders (AAHCPAD)

1 CE credit hour

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American Psychological Association (APA)

1 CE credit hour

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Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)

1 CE credit hour

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National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

1 CPD hour

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Runaway Youth System Dynamics: A Theoretical Framework for Analyzing Runaway and Homeless Youth Policy

Exam Questions

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Course Retired
Course Number 100747
1 credit hour
Log in for credit hours relevant to your licensure.

  • Reading-Based Online
Exam Fee: No Longer Available
4 out of 5
7 members have taken this course


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