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Focus group discussion

Four of our team went over to the shelter on Saturday morning to meet with the youth in their home. We had a great talk with the 12-13 of them; they gave us a lot of information to inform our next steps.

Health education topics- nothing striking in terms of what they wish for us to teach them. We solicited ideas by notecard, then opened the floor for discussion. Far and away, safe sex and STI prevention was the topic of choice expressed by the youth. Many also spoke of needing more information on how to obtain insurance and where the best clinics are for them for basic health needs. This is all the more important in light of the fact that two important homless youth-serving clinics have closed or reduced services of late. I will attach a list of those topics when I email the group.

Ways to learn- youth thought that a session every 2-3 weeks would be best for them. (This is more frequent than we were anticipating.) They said that the session should not be mandatory, that it should be held in the evening (since most are at work or school during the day) and that Sundays are good for them. They had some very insightful comments about ways to learn: movies with post-discussion is good, brochures should be an option (as they grab them from clinics, go and read them while on a bus or between places), one-to-one counseling is good as an option for individual health ed, a "ask the nurse" box for questions between live sessions with answers posted for all residents to see, spilt by gender groups every once in a while to ask specific men/women questions, as well as other creative ways to learn during teaching sessions. Overall, there was high interest among the group in our proposed work.

Other interesting notes- many youth have insurance. About 50-70% of those in the room had insurance and primary care, while the others had no idea where they'd go if ill. Those that did have insurance trumpeted its value and expressed using it well (primary care, testing, etc). These numbers are similar to what we saw with youth coming in to Youthlink's clinic years ago.

So next steps are clearer- let's begin to chart out dates for education sessions, have small groups of 2-3 volunteers present a single topic, picking a time that works for them hoping that it fits with the times youth are available. I will coordinate with Heather, the volunteer coordinator, so she can work with case workers/staff and promote the offering in the house.

First topic, safe sex/STIs. Anne, you interested in taking the lead? Nicole, Andrew want to join her?

Date- mid-November?


Scott, I noticed on the website that Avenues seems to have a number of GLBT youth, and also a lot of pregnant youth. I'm interested in both!

Do you need more volunteers for STIs this month? Or maybe a mid December pregnancy group?

Do you know if the teen can stay at avenues after she delivers?


Good questions. For your third question- no, they can not stay at the shelter after they deliver. From what they told us, there is a mad rush to get housing set-up for the youth (usually at one of the teen mom group homes). But there are excellent chances for health ed prenatally while they are staying there.

First question- I haven't contacted anyone yet to set a date for the first session. I'm in DC now for APHA and plan to do that when I get back. I'll include you in the email and hope that Anne takes the lead on this first one!

Second question- good idea for a back-up topic and date!

Great to hear from you; hope your semester is going well and your inaugural teaching gig as well!