18 Sep
  • By L.O.V.E. Foundation

Delivering Optimal Human Services to Disenfranchised Adolescents

Various qualities play an important role when delivering optimal services for at risk youth. Communication is the first quality of relevance, which has many facets and layers of importance.  The communication between the adolescent and the human service professional is the first level of concern when considering the effectiveness of human services (Hagan, et al., 2011). Through means of effective communication between the human service professional and the disenfranchised adolescent, trust is built ensuring for the feeling of safety and security for the disenfranchised youth (King & Newnham, 2011).  Since adolescents are extremely sensitive to any type of criticism, the professional must be mindful of the way in which he or she communicates with the adolescent, remembering to speak in compassionate and nonjudgmental tones.  Communication should support the autonomy and confidentiality of the individual at all times.  Alfred’s research indicated when parents improved their communication skills, the adolescent improved his or her communication skills thus positively affecting the individual’s behavior (Alfred, 2011). Since many of the adolescents served come from broken homes, are homeless, and residing within the child welfare system most depend upon the human service professional to model appropriate communication skills (Martin, 2011).  Good communication skills are critical to the disenfranchised adolescent because he or she desires an adult to listen to his or her problems; the adolescent desires to express emotions and feelings (Walker, 2002).


(Photo taken during L.O.V.E. Foundation’s annual BBQ, “Love IS Alive” to celebrate and lift the spirits of our homeless youth)

The quality of family is crucial in an adolescent’s life and many disenfranchised adolescents are void of a family dynamic, which makes the human services offered to the at risk youth significant in creating a sense of community and belonging for the adolescent.  The human services offered, whether it is a non-profit organization, the child welfare system, the juvenile justice system, or the foster care system, many times acts as a substitute for the family of the disenfranchised adolescent and serves as the foundation for the idea of family for the individual’s life (Martin, 2011).  According to the research of Kate McLean, Andrea Breen, and Marc Frontier, adolescents desire to be a part of a group and to cultivate close relationships with others (McLean, et al., 2010).  Because the human services organization may act as a substitute for the family dynamic (Martin, 2011), based upon Levy’s research, these organizations must render warmth and support, which will diminish risky behaviors of the disenfranchised youth.  As well, when parents set boundaries and clear expectations for their child, the child is less apt to engage in risky behavior (Levy, 2009).  Hence, a human services organization must set clear boundaries and expectations for the disenfranchised adolescent in order to provide proper guidance and lessen the engagement of risky behavior on the part of the youth (Levy, 2009; Martin, 2011).

The quality of empowerment is an integral component needed when delivering optimal human services to disenfranchised adolescents.  Since most of the adolescents served by means of human services come from abusive and horrific living conditions, rarely are these kids appreciated and strengthened in knowing their value (Martin, 2011).  According to Martin, when working with homeless youth the human service professional “must provide consistent encouragement, compassionate care, and understanding that promotes both self-esteem and self-efficacy (a sense of competence) in these emotionally broken and bruised teens” (Martin, 2011, p. 181).  The human services organization plays the role of empowering and lifting the adolescent beyond his or her current paradigm (Martin, 2011).   Although a majority of the disenfranchised adolescents are broken because of poverty, homelessness, family conflict, drug abuse, and exploitation, if given proper encouragement and empowerment, via methods of mentoring and guidance from the human services organization and its professionals, the youth are resilient in nature and may continue on to lead productive and meaningful lives (Zolkoski & Bullock, 2012). 


(Photo taken during L.O.V.E. Foundation’s annual BBQ, “Love IS Alive” to celebrate and lift the spirits of our homeless youth)

The final quality identified as imperative to delivering optimal human services to disenfranchised adolescents is unconditional love, which is a powerful quality of service with many positive benefits (Oman, 2010).  Martin’s research indicated that homeless adolescents felt “extremely lonely and distrustful but in desperate need of love and affection” (Martin, 2011, p. 180).  Most disenfranchised adolescents lack a sense of love because they are coming from broken family dynamics and abusive histories (Martin, 2011).  When adolescents are given unconditional love, the power of unconditional love promotes positive results in self-esteem and self-worth.  The adolescent is positively affected by unconditional love and as a result of the love shown to him or her, the individual will respond to life unselfishly and with a strong desire to serve others by putting others’ needs before his or hers.  The desire to help others before his or her needs due to the power of unconditional love, fortifies the disenfranchised adolescent by means of individual enrichment and a great sense of purpose and belonging within a community.  Self-efficacy is positively improved by the power of unconditional love, as well as the individual feeling better as the result of reduced stress and pain levels (Oman, 2011).  Many homeless youth reported having a strong belief in God and a desire for love (Martin, 2011).  Optimal human services offering unconditional love as the foundation of service enliven the lives of the disenfranchised adolescents with a faith and hope in a universal good (Oman, 2010).

The disenfranchised adolescent typically comes from a broken and abusive home, leaving the youth abandoned to address and contemplate the meaning of his or her identity and autonomy without the support structure of loving guidance usually offered by the parents.  Without the comforts of the familial community dynamic, the disenfranchised adolescent is thrust into a life of homelessness, incarceration, foster care, drug abuse, and exploitation with minimal resources to effectively mentor and guide the disenfranchised adolescent along the journey of life.  Because of the child welfare system which punitively labels our youth, the homeless condition, the lack of trust disenfranchised adolescents have towards adults, and a lack of funding adolescents are potentially not engaging in effective and optimal human services.  The need for optimal human services for the disenfranchised adolescent is clear.  Offering readily available human services, led by caring human service professionals who embody the principles of effective and powerful communication, family and community, empowerment and encouragement, and unconditional love, optimizes the effectiveness of the service rendered to our disenfranchised youth.  Our adolescents are resilient in nature and when properly nurtured may live purpose driven and fulfilling lives of service.


(Photo taken during L.O.V.E. Foundation’s annual BBQ, “Love IS Alive” to celebrate and lift the spirits of our homeless youth)


Alfred, S. (2009).  Best practices for youth friendly clinical services.  Advocates for Youth Publications 134, 1.  Retrieved from–bestpractices-for-youth-friendly-clinical-services

Hagan, J., Kisubi, A. T. (2011).  Best practices in human services: A global perspective. Council for Standards in Human Service Education 1, 1-439.  Retrieved from

King, M. G. & Newnham, K. (2011).  Attachment disorder, basic trust and educational psychology.  Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology, 8, (27-35). Retrieved from

Levy, S. (2009).  Behavioral problems in adolescents.  The Merck Manual Home Health  Handbook for Patients and Caregivers, 1, 1.  Retrieved from

Martin, M.E. (2011). Introduction to human services: Through the eyes of practice settings. Second Edition. Boston, MA:  Allyn & Bacon.

McLean, K., Breen, A., & Fournier M. (2010). Constructing the self in early, middle, and late adolescent boys: Narrative identity, individuation, and well-being. Journal of

Research on Adolescence 20(1), 166-187. Retrieved from

Oman, D. (2010). Compassionate love: What does the research show?  Report to  Fetzer Institute 3, 1-111. Retrieved from

Walker, J. (2002).  Teens in distress series: Adolescent stress and depression.  The Center

For 4-H Youth Development 1, 1.  Retrieved from Zolkoski, S., & Bullock., L. (2012). Resilience in children and youth: A review. Children and Youth Services Review 34(12), 2295 – 2303. Retrieved from


web-selects-16-_nkx5460-124 Greg Johnson, President and Founder

Greg Johnson is the president and founder of L.O.V.E. Foundation, and founder of Love Soulution™, Champion Heart ™, and Sober Heart™. He is the best selling author of Loving Heart and Powerful Soul: Seven Principles for Transforming the Homeless Youth Epidemic Forevermore.

Greg earned a B.F.A. from the University of Florida and holds a license as a spiritual practitioner with the Agape University in Los Angeles, CA. Mr. He has a Master of Arts in Human Services: Executive Leadership from Liberty University in Virginia. He has assisted in developing numerous curriculums for the advancement of our children for youth conferences, summer camps, and group homes. Greg has served as a mental health counselor in private hospitals in Chicago, Illinois overseeing the children’s unit and as an administrator for group homes in northern California. 

Greg is a group facilitator, leading powerful workshops and groups for L.O.V.E. Foundation youth.  As well, Mr. Johnson facilitates powerful spiritual groups with outpatient treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction and individual spiritual sessions with his company Champion Heart™ and Sober Heart™.  His company, Love Soulution™ assists clients in returning to the sanctuary of their souls where love is whispering to them the destinies of their success.

Mr. Johnson is dedicated and impassioned about spreading a message of love throughout the world and standing for disenfranchised adolescents worldwide.