The remaining four data sets examined are from studies that contain data on specific populations in selected areas of the country. Three of the studies are focused on low-income families in one or more selected cities across the country. One study, the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (CWHRS), includes a one-time sample of women in Chicago seeking treatment. Each of these studies is described below.
Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (CWHRS). Funded by the National Institute of Justice, the CWHRS (see Table 4-6) was designed to identify risk factors that place a physically abused woman or her partner in significant danger of life-threatening injury (Block, 2000). The study collected extensive baseline information on several different samples: women who had been abused in the 12 months prior to seeking general health care (n=497), women who did not report being abused during that same period (n=208), and victims of intimate homicide (based on proxy interviews) (n=87) (Block, Stevenson, Leskin, and Thomas, 2002; Block, 2000; Block, Engel, Naureckas, and Riordan, 1999). Because the CWHRS sought to include the hidden population of women who are experiencing intimate partner violence but who are unknown to service agencies, women were screened for abuse at a county hospital or at community health clinics located in neighborhoods with high rates of intimate partner homicide.
The study focused on the 49a7 women who had been physically abused at least once in the year prior to seeking general health care, collecting descriptive data on each abuse incident during the 12 months prior to seeking treatment, and reinterviewing the women one time for varying periods up to 12 months following the initial interview. Sixty-six percent (323) of the original abuse sample was reinterviewed. Data were collected on an array of risk and protective factors for abuse across the retrospective and prospective periods. These included one's living situation (with specific attention to homelessness), family composition and child separations, marital status, physical health, pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, mental health (posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and depression/suicide feelings), race/ethnicity, occupation and income, immigrant status, resource and social support network, intervention, and help seeking. Specifically, help seeking included whether assistance was sought from alcohol and drug treatment providers, a domestic violence agency, a medical provider, and/or the police.
The CWHRS provides additional samples of women at risk for homelessness, as well as those who are homeless, and any transitions they make over the course of 12 months. The study also provides information on women currently being abused that would augment knowledge contributed by the Worcester Family Research Project and the SAMHSA Homeless Families Project. A specific question of interest for reanalysis would be if the help-seeking patterns of those who are homeless differ from individuals who are currently housed. The major drawback is that this is a single-site study with a relatively small sample that therefore is likely not representative of all women being abused.
Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study. The Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (see Table 4-7), also referred to as the Survey of New Parents, follows a birth cohort of new parents and their children over a 5-year period. The purpose of the study is to provide new information on the strengths, conditions, and relationships of unwed parents and how Federal and state policies affect family composition and child well-being.
The study used a three-stage sampling process. First, a stratified random sample of 20 cities was selected from all 77 U.S. cities with 200,000 or more people. The stratification was based on three variables: welfare generosity, the strength of the child support system, and the strength of the labor market (Reichman, Teitler, Garfinkel, McLanahan, 2001). Second, hospitals within cities were sampled, based on the proportion of nonmarital births in the hospitals or, in New York and Chicago, randomly from the pool of hospitals with over 1,000 nonmarital births per year. Third, random samples of both married and unmarried births were selected in each hospital per preset quotas. Samples were designed to be representative of the nonmarital births taking place in each of the 20 cities, but not necessarily to be representative of the marital births, since hospitals were sampled that had the most nonmarital births. Interviews were conducted with both the birth mother and the birth father. The final sample was composed of 3,712 nonmarital births and 1,186 marital births.
Data were collected at baseline, with initial interviews with mothers occurring within 24 hours of the child's birth and with fathers as soon after the birth as possible. Followup interviews were conducted with both parents when the child reached 12, 30, and 48 months. An in-home child assessment was also conducted with the child at 30 and 48 months. Data were collected on current housing situation and residential mobility from both parents at all data collection points and included homelessness as a response option. The data set also included extensive information from both parents on demographics; partner, child, and familial relationships; marriage attitudes; child well-being; the health and development of the child and the respondent; social support; environmental factors; government programs; incarceration; and employment, income, and economic well-being.
Of all the data sets identified, this study offers the most promise for informing the typology efforts. For the purposes of this current effort, the project team conducted a reanalysis of the Fragile Families data set, focusing on specific research questions described in Chapter 5, along with the findings from the reanalysis. The data set contains a high-risk sample for homelessness, in that pregnancy is one of the major risk factors found to precede homelessness (Weitzman, 1989) or its reoccurrence (Rog and Gutman, 1997). Because it is a longitudinal panel study, it affords the ability to track families over time into various residences and presumably homelessness, and to examine the role of various other factors in their lives operating as either risk or protective factors. The database has the added benefits of being readily available and national in scope on the nonmarital births, offering some specific city information. Finally, the study contains a wealth of information on children from birth to 5 years and would provide an invaluable comparative perspective on the development of children living in various environments and experiencing different patterns of residential and familial instability.
Welfare, Children, and Families: Three-City Study. This research project is an intensive study of households with children in low-income neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio. The study (see Table 4-8) is designed to better understand the effects of welfare reform on the well-being of children and families, especially as welfare reform evolves. The study has three interrelated components-longitudinal surveys, an embedded development study, and ethnographic studies.
The longitudinal component includes three rounds of interviews with a random sample of 2,400 households selected in 1999 (with an oversampling of welfare families). Each household had a child either between the ages of 0 to 4 or between the ages of 10 to 14 at the time of the baseline interview. Two followup interviews were conducted, one in 2000/01 and the second beginning in 2002. Personal interviews were conducted with the adults and the older children. Assessments were conducted with the younger children. With respect to homelessness, the survey identifies families who indicate that they went to a shelter instead of receiving welfare and those who indicate that they went to a shelter when benefits stopped or were cut. Unfortunately, the code "moving in with others" as a response to either not receiving welfare or what they did after benefits stopped is combined with "moving to cheaper housing;" therefore, a transition can be noted but is not well defined. In addition, data are collected on whether another individual or individuals have moved in with the household because they could not live on their own.
The developmental study includes more intensive testing and evaluation of approximately 700 children aged 2 to 4. This includes videotaping and coding interactions, time-diary studies, and observations of child care settings. Ethnographies are also being conducted in each city, focused on how changes in welfare policy affect the daily lives of welfare-dependent and working poor families; 215 families are to be followed for 4 years.
This study may hold some promise for informing the typology. It will depend on the extent to which people indicate that homelessness, or moving to another residence/being doubled up, are options they chose in order to not receive welfare. It will also depend on how they survived once welfare was terminated. Because these are not direct questions but rather open-ended response options, it is up to the respondent to offer this information. Moreover, it is unlikely in most cases that people moved into shelter to avoid going on welfare or as a direct result of benefits being cut. Doubling-up with others is a more likely result, but it may not happen immediately after welfare is cut; it is more likely that families will weather an eviction or two before moving to other housing or in with family or friends. Thus, the usefulness of these data depends on how valid the responses are and the extent to which the relevant options are used.
Women's Employment Study. The Women's Employment Study (see Table 4-9) consists of a random sample of 874 single mothers who were on the welfare rolls in a Michigan metropolitan area in 1997. Cases were proportionately selected by ZIP Code, race, and age. Eligibility was also restricted to White or Black women who were U.S. citizens and not classified as exempt from work requirements. Four waves of data were collected, generally at 1-year intervals with the baseline conducted in 1997. The purpose of the study is to examine barriers to employment among welfare mothers. In-person interviews cover a comprehensive set of possible barriers, including education; work experience, skills, and readiness; physical health, mental health, and substance abuse problems; family stress; and domestic violence.
Key to typology interest is the measurement of housing affordability, residential mobility, and homelessness in the first followup wave. Respondents rated the difficulty of living on their total household income and the likelihood of experiencing hardships such as inadequate housing, food, or medical care in the next 2 months. They also were asked if they had their gas or electricity turned off, had been evicted, or had been homeless since the previous interview. If a respondent indicated that they had been homeless, the amount of time spent homeless was recorded.
Unfortunately, the Women's Employment Study database is not in the public domain at this time. However, since the study has an active research team, additional analyses relevant to the typology may be ongoing or may be solicited. In particular, the study represents another examination of families at risk of becoming homeless and the various factors that place them at risk or that may cause them to fall into homelessness.