Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Part III: Future Directions for Research

10/01/2007

Research conducted to date on homeless children has illuminated the knowledge on current needs and the impact of homelessness. Additional studies of homeless and housed children along the lines of previous investigations may do little to clarify the inconsistencies in findings. If future research is conducted that specifically addresses the question of how and to what degree homelessness impacts children, it should address some of the issues brought up earlier. However, this is no small task because it would be impossible to control on historical factors that may have affected past results and it would be very difficult to account for contextual factors, such as the extent of a housing shortage in a community or shelter conditions, without conducting a large multisite study. Clearly there are variables that moderate the relationships between housing status and important indices of children’s well-being, but many of these variables may be at levels of analysis higher than the individual (e.g., shelter, community, etc.) and are difficult to investigate. Nonetheless, to advance this area of research to be more practical for policymakers and service providers, it would be helpful to understand some of the contextual, moderating influences raised here.

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