Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Children and Youth Services Review 64 (May 2016), pp. 15–22.

doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.02.026


Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


This paper explores the experiences of early adultification among 40 homeless youth aged 19 to 21. Findings from semistructured, face-to-face interviews revealed the experiences of early adultification among homeless young people. We used both initial and focused coding and the final qualitative themes emerged naturally from the data. Early adultification encompassed the following processes, which were closely tied to prominent descriptions of family conflict and caregiver neglect: premature caregiving, early independence, and parenthood. Premature caregiving burdened participants with familial responsibility such as caring for younger siblings prior to their leaving home. Early independence occurred when young people provided for their own needs in the absence of caregiver guidance when they were still residing with family. Parenthood thrust young people into the adult role of caring for an infant once they left home. Early adultification complicated participants’ experiences with leaving home by imbuing them with premature independence and familial detachment. Identifying the unique aspects surrounding young people’s lives prior to and after leaving home is crucial in preventing residential instability and in alleviating the issues that homeless young adults experience.