Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Endnotes


1 This estimate is children who are part of families and does not include unaccompanied adolescents.

2 This is a period (e.g., 12-month) prevalence estimate for a homelessness episode of any duration. A point prevalence estimate (e.g., the number of children homeless on any given night) would be a substantially smaller number.

3 There is some minor variation in syndrome scales for the two age groups, but the composite internalizing and externalizing global scores can be calculated for each version thereby providing a useful means for aggregating data across the two age ranges.

4 Children are considered in the clinical range of the instrument, suggesting the need for further assessment and possibly treatment by a mental health care provider, with T-scores of 64 or greater. T-scores from 60 to 63 are considered to be in the “borderline-clinical” range.

5 The association between mothers’ psychological distress and CBCL ratings of their children’s problem behavior is a consistent finding in the literature. However, the nature of the link is unclear. One possibility is that a mother’s mental health influences her child’s behavior but the reverse could also be true. Furthermore, a mother who views the world in negativistic terms may report herself as having more distress as well rate her child’s behavior as more problematic.

6 This is consistent with anecdotal reports and conjecture that older children experience more distress as a result of being homeless as compared to younger children. Possible reasons include older children’s increased awareness of their external surroundings and the greater likelihood of encountering stigmatization from peers.

7 These CDI scores are nearly identical to those found by Bassuk and Rosenberg (1990) about 8 years earlier in Boston.

8 Children ages 6 to 8 years who were included in the Buckner et al. (1999) report were not part of this paper because they were too young to be directly administered the DISC.

9 A possible explanation is that the CBCL is better at picking up the effects of recent events than is the DISC, although both assessments use the same 6-month retrospective time frame. Also, diagnostic criteria for mental disorders versus behavior problem checklists do not correspond exactly, so the instruments may be assessing somewhat different things. The discrepancy could also be due to the source of the information (the CBCL is based on parent report, whereas the information taken to arrive at diagnoses for children regarding internalizing disorders came from the youth him or herself).

10 The DDST was not administered to housed children in this study.

11 In contrast, one could speculate that the results of Rubin et al. (1996) and that of Rafferty et al. (2004) (both which were conducted in New York city at about the same time), which each found higher school absences and lower academic achievement among homeless children, suggest that the EHCY program in this city was not as successfully implemented as compared to in Worcester 5 years later.

12 As shown in Table 1-1, the “Ho > Hou > GP” abbreviation can be interpreted to mean that the “homeless group had more problems on the outcome measure(s) than the low-income housed comparison group, which in turn had more problems than children in the general population/normative data.”

13 However, only some studies collected assessments of a range of adversities that children living in poverty experience, so it is not always possible to document how much risk children in the homeless and housed groups were exposed to.

14 In Massachusetts, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), which is in charge of the emergency shelter system (as well as other assistance programs for persons with low-income), refers to this as “rendering oneself homeless.” This term is an acknowledgement of the reality that some families decide a temporary stay in a family shelter may be worth it if it speeds up the process of securing permanent housing; especially if the alternative is to continue living in crowded, “doubled-up” quarters with relatives or friends. In general, DTA disapproves of rendering oneself or family homeless.

15 As illustration of this, in the Worcester study when families in both groups were re-interviewed a year after the initial baseline interview, 92 percent of the initially homeless families were now in permanent housing and 8 percent were still homeless. By the same token, 92 percent of the housed families were still in permanent housing but 8 percent were now homeless. In other words, one year after enrollment, exactly the same proportion of “homeless” and “housed” families in our longitudinal study were living in permanent housing.

16 Chronic strains include such things as feeling hungry, being cold in the winter, worrying about the safety of one’s relatives, feeling a lack of privacy. These are circumstances that can be experienced on a regular basis, and children were asked if they had experienced a strain, how frequently, and how much they were worried or bothered by it. Life events are more acute in nature and tend to have an onset and endpoint. They can include extreme events, such as witnessing violence, having a relative die, having a parent be arrested, and more normative events, such as changing schools or having a new sibling born into one’s family.

17 A primary goal of cluster analysis is to take a group of variables (e.g., indices of mental health and other outcome measures) and try to identify subgroups where members are similar to one another but different from other subgroups. A goal is to minimize within-group variation on the values of variables used in the clustering, but maximize differences between groups. This yields an empirical typology.

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