Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. Homeless Families and Children. Interventions Focused on Homeless Children


There continue to be a limited number of evaluations of interventions that target homeless children (or their mothers) in an effort to improve their well-being. A few studies have evaluated school-based or summer program interventions for homeless children (Nabors, Weist et al., 2004; Nabors, Sumajin et al., 2004). More recently, Buckner et al. (in press), examined the effectiveness of multifaceted, mother-focused interventions on improving the behavior of children who participated in the eight-site CMHS/CSAT Homeless Families Program Initiative. Data were collected at four time points (an initial assessment followed by three similar assessments 3, 9, and 15 months later) on 1,103 children, ranging from 2 to 16 years of age, who were living with their mothers. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine whether intervention status, programmatic emphases, and other factors predicted rate of change in behavior problems over time. While the results indicated that, overall, childrens problem behaviors improved over time, neither treatment status (target intervention versus comparison intervention group) nor programmatic emphases were associated with change in problem behaviors either within or across the eight sites. Consistent with previous research, measures of the mothers psychological distress as well as parenting practices were found to be good independent predictors of child behavior problems. Results from this study indicate that further research and program development are needed to identify effective strategies for addressing the mental health and behavioral needs of homeless and low-income children.

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