The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is a longitudinal, cross-regional study of families using homeless shelters. Using the HMIS universal data elements, the following questions can be investigated:
The advantages of a national longitudinal study of homeless families include the ability to:
Primary Data Collection. Interviews with the heads of household would be conducted within two weeks of the shelter request; at the time of exit or six months into shelter; and at six- or 12-month intervals subsequent to exit for a period of two to five years.
Sample. The basic sample would be a random sample of families requesting shelter for the first time. Depending on resources, the sample could include oversamples of families who come from two-parent families, father-only families, and families who are working to allow greater attention to these understudied groups.
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Typologies and Knowledge Gaps it Could Inform
Data collected through a national longitudinal study of homeless families would help with resource allocation; understanding the needs of the population enables resource matching. Basic study design could provide data on the following:
Much of the past research involving homeless families has focused on the pathways into homelessness and the characteristics of families who become homeless in comparison to poor families in general. There has not been comparable attention paid to understanding how families exit homelessness and their subsequent residential patterns. During an over
The Longitudinal Study of Homeless Families is a proposed national longitudinal study of exit patterns and shelter requests of homeless families using primary data. The major research questions could include the following:
Expert Panel members all agreed that more than one typology relevant to homeless families would be needed, depending on the purposes for developing the particular typology. After much discussion, four possible goals for a typology were summarized:
Based on previous chapters and the Expert Panel meeting, three options for future research to inform the typology are proposed (see Table 7-1 ). First, there remains a need to understand the exits and pathways out of homelessness and subsequent residential patterns. A longitudinal, nationally representative study of first-time homeless families r
The existing body of literature related to homeless families provides substantial information on the characteristics and service needs of currently homeless mothers and their dependent children but is not robust enough to provide sufficient data with which to develop a typology of homeless families. In order to fill this knowledge gap, this projec
7 The surveys examined in this chapter were identified using a variety of sources. In addition to the surveys identified and examined in Chapter 2 and recommendations made by members of an Expert Panel brought together in July 2005 [see Chapter 3 ], surveys were identified through various web searches. Summaries and lists of databases, such as
As noted in Chapter 2 , existing studies, including the NLS and ACS, do not provide enough information to identify families that are currently or have recently been homeless. The major enhancements that these surveys need include adding questions and/or adding response categories that make it possible to identify homeless families.
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Studies that Met Primary Selection Criteria
National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1979. The NLSY79 is a series of surveys with a nationally representative sample of 12,686 young men and women who were between the ages of 14 and 22 in 1979. Annual interviews were conducted from 1979 until 1994; since then, respondents have been interviewed every other year (1996, 1998, etc.). Respondent
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Studies Unable to Examine Subpopulations or Regional/State Differences
Two longitudinal studies, the SIPP and the PSID, that in many respects appeared to be good candidates for enhancement, were eventually considered to have samples that were too small to provide reliable estimates of recently homeless or residentially unstable families.
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Study Design and Structure Likely to Exclude Recent Homeless Families or Residentially Unstable Families
The MEPS was not considered a good candidate for enhancement because it uses a sample design that appears to make it more difficult to include recently homeless families as well as families that are currently at risk of being homeless. While most of the longitudinal studies use some sort of national area probability sample to select their responde
Two of the longitudinal studies described in Table 4-3 were not considered appropriate candidates for enhancement, either because they have just finished or will soon end data collection. These include both the kindergarten and birth cohort samples of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) and the National Survey of Child and Adolescent W
In addition to the cross-sectional surveys, there are several longitudinal studies that track the same person, family, or household over time. Because of the challenges and costs involved in tracking respondents, these surveys typically involve much smaller samples than cross-sectional studies and are often much more focused on specific population