Kristin Ferguson-Colvin
Associate Professor
(602) 496-0088

Kristin Ferguson-Colvin is an associate professor at the Arizona State University School of Social Work, part of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Her research focuses on understanding and mitigating the environmental and psychosocial factors that contribute to youth homelessness. Her intervention research is largely participatory and community-based, in which she partners with civil-society organizations to design, implement, and evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of interventions for homeless youth that integrate employment and clinical services, including supported employment and social enterprises.

From 2009-2011, she was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health to test a social enterprise employment intervention for homeless youth (ages 16-24) with mental illness. During that period, she was also funded by Columbia University to test the feasibility of the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment with homeless youth with mental illness. From 2012-2013, she was funded to adapt the IPS model with at-risk young adults with mental illness in East Harlem and to evaluate IPS participation on employment, mental health, functional, and behavioral outcomes.

More recently, Ferguson has focused on understanding the service gaps and clinical and vocational needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) homeless young adults. She co-authored a toolkit for practitioners working with LGBTQ homeless youth on promising practices and service gaps for this population based on a national study of homeless youth organizations. She is currently working on two studies with LGBTQ homeless youth in New York City that are designed to gather pilot data to inform the development of behavioral interventions for LGBTQ homeless young people. The first study aims to identify the forms, purposes, frequencies, and locations of technology use among LGBTQ homeless young adults and to explore how technology can be used to gather data on their patterns of housing instability and survival behaviors. The second study explores the perceptions of homeless young adults with first-episode psychosis about their pathways to care in accessing treatment, their engagement with such care, and the outcomes associated with their treatment. 

To inform her intervention development research, since 2008 Ferguson has been working with homeless youth researchers across five U.S. cities to collect data on homeless youths’ institutional disaffiliation, subsistence behaviors, employment patterns, substance use, mental health, and transience. This multi-city research collaborative has resulted in 25 articles published among the team in peer-reviewed journals, 2 book chapters, and 28 professional conference presentations. Collectively, these findings affirm distinct patterns across cities and suggest the need to develop customized interventions by city for homeless young adults.

She holds a doctorate in social work and comparative social welfare policy and a master’s degree in social work. 

For more information on Dr. Ferguson's research, please visit: http://

  • Homelessness and runaway youth
  • Commercial and sexual exploitation of children
  • Social enterprises
  • Competitive employment
  • University-agency research partnerships
  • Global social work