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Rudnicki, Ann Allison (2009) PUBLIC POLICY FOR RUNAWAY, HOMELESS, AND AT-RISK YOUTH: INSTITUTIONS, VALUES, AND ATTITUDES. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In 1995, Washington State passed the "Becca Bill", reversing existing law in Washington State and putting the state in conflict with United States law and the United Nations Children's Rights Convention. These laws and convention prioritized voluntary services for runaways and other so-called status offenders—juveniles committing offenses that would not be considered crimes for adults. But despite the fact that both sides argued in support of protecting the safety and best interests of children, the debate leading to the Becca Bill was highly conflictual. This research argues that models for serving runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth contain an implicit prioritization of two conflicting values—safety and choice, and that respondent attitudes towards the different models are related to the respondents' own values hierarchies. Comparing the values and attitudes of staff working in youth services in Washington state with those in two adjacent states/provinces with a different configuration of laws related to youth permits examination not only of the relationship between values and attitudes, but also between values and the normative-legal environment. Finally, a comparison of the values and attitudes of staff according to the types of program in which they work offers data regarding the relationship between values and epistemic communities. Despite the efforts of social scientist researchers over the past 50-100 years, debates continue about the exact meaning of "institution" and "values", the origins of institutions and values, the parameters around them, and what causes them to change. The challenge is not simply academic, for the very concepts of institutions and values imply entities that have great influence in the daily life of individuals. This research thus provides insight both in the area of policy and that of theory regarding values and institutions. The results of the research show that staff values are related to a combination of personal experience, the technical considerations of the work, and the epistemic communities within which they operate. No correlation of values and attitudes is found with the normative legal environment. Significant differences are found, however, according to the type of agency in which staff work.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rudnicki, Ann
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairNelson, Paul Jpjnelson@pitt.eduPJNELSON
Committee MemberBoyer, Debra
Committee MemberWeinberg, Lee Sweinberg@pitt.eduWEINBERG
Committee MemberPicard, Louis A.picard@pitt.eduPICARD
Date: 26 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 21 April 2009
Approval Date: 26 June 2009
Submission Date: 17 May 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Becca
Other ID:, etd-05172009-140654
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:45
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:43


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