The early studies of homeless children took place in contexts in which the problem of family homelessness had recently emerged and where communities had not had sufficient time nor had marshaled adequate resources to address the needs of this new homeless subgroup. While difficult to document, it is likely that shelter conditions for families have
Studies of homeless children have differed in terms of the assessment instruments employed, the degree of statistical power afforded by sample size, selection of comparison groups, enrollment procedures, and other factors. While there are methodological shortcomings in some studies, this probably is not a major reason for the inconsistencies in st
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Part II: Why Studies of Homeless Children Have Produced Inconsistent Findings
The previous section reviewed many of the published empirical articles that address the potential impact of homelessness on children. The continuum-of-risk figure ( Figure 1-1 ) is helpful in summarizing various study findings. A rather consistent result across studies is noting elevated problems among homeless and low-income housed children compa
The early studies of homeless children that assessed health outcomes found a higher prevalence of health-related problems compared to low-income housed children or children in the general population. For instance, Alperstein et al. (1987) in a study of outpatient medical records in a New York City pediatric clinic, compared 265 homeless children u
Among infants and preschool age children, assessing cognitive and motor development in relation to specific developmental milestones is useful in understanding a child’s “developmental status” and whether the child appears to have developmental delay(s) in one or more realms. For instance, a child who is not walking by the age of 2 or not sp
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Mental Health and Problem Behaviors
The mental health of homeless children has been a central concern for service providers as well as researchers. The most widely used instrument in homelessness research with children has been the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) (Achenbach, 1991; Achenbach and Rescorla, 2001). The CBCL is an instrument that is administered to the parent of a child
Using data from the National Survey of Homelessness Assistance Providers conducted in 1996, The Urban Institute (2000) estimated that families with children account for about 39 percent of the homeless population in this country on any given night. 1 Based on this survey, researchers at The Urban Institute estimated that somewhere between 874,00
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Appendix A: Impact of Homelessness on Children: An Analytic Review of the Literature
This paper reviews published research conducted in the United States pertaining to the effects of homelessness on the mental health, behavior, health, and academic performance of children who are homeless with their families. This has been the central aim of most of the studies involving homeless children that have been conducted to date. A primar
In summary, this project has identified a staged approach to developing typologies of homeless families and families who are at risk of homelessness. Data from existing sources provide some indication of the types of variables to be examined in order to develop classifications, but the variability among the studies in sample selection, measurement
Definition and Guidance from Past Research. A second typology, focused on families who have already become homeless, would classify families by the factors that block their ability to exit homelessness (e.g., poor credit; past justice involvement), as well as challenges they may have to maintain stability and self-sufficiency. Some families exit
Definition and Guidance from Past Research. A prevention-oriented typology would provide the ability to rank families according to levels of risk for homelessness and probability of a quick exit. Such a typology would allow for distinguishing families in desperate need from those with more moderate needs.
Consensus from the Expert Panel is that the two top goals for a typology should be a focus on prevention and resource allocation - how to match the resources that exist with the needs of the families who are homeless. Given that the factors that predict becoming homeless are likely to differ from those that predict exiting homelessness, it may
The purpose of this project has been to conduct a number of activities designed to inform the development of a typology of homeless families. These activities included the following:
12 This is relevant if the study involves a cohort of multiply homeless families in addition to first-time homeless. 13 This can be investigated only if the study is national with sufficient local samples or a set of local studies. 14 This is relevant only if the study includes a comparable sample of poor families who are at risk of home
The advantage to this option is the ability to examine the effectiveness of typologies in place. Limitations to this proposed approach include: Not likely to allow for a controlled study and What is in place may not concur with guidance from other research.
Administrative Data. Ideally, administrative data could be accessed through the HMIS system that would provide information on the family background and demographics, service needs, past and ongoing service use, family composition and stability, and family residential arrangements.
Basic Study Design. The basic study design would be an evaluation of one or more existing best practices at the county or state level where homeless service providers are using an empirical approach to determine need for preventive services. The goal would be to determine how effectively and appropriately the system matches services to needs.
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Typologies and Knowledge Gaps It Could Inform
A basic study of a prevention practice would provide information on the following: Prevention — identify risk factors for homelessness; Treatment matching — understand the services and housing needed by particular families to exit homelessness; Families at risk for homelessness or the identification of families before they become home