Children in Homeless Families: Risks to Mental Health and Development

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Over the past few years, there has been a drastic growth in the number of homeless families with children. This also increases a concern about the well being of children living in such dangerous settings. Despite the growing number of homeless children, very little is known about their well-being and mental health. The only data up to this article is based on studies with only a small amount of school-aged children, contained of demographic surveys that focused on the education and physical health of homeless children. Thus, “Methodologically sound studies of the mental health risks for homeless children are clearly needed to inform policymakers, mental health professionals, and educators who increasingly are confronted with helping these children” (Masten, Millotis, Graham-Bermann, Ramirez, & Neemann, 1993). Method

The objective of this study was to examine the psychological change of homeless children of ages eight to seventeen that lived in a shelter in Minnesota. The families were chosen based on who was living in the Minnesota shelter and families that came to the shelter during the study had to live at the shelter for at least one week before they could take part in the study. The number of parents that were involved in the study was 93 and the number of children was 159 with 83 of them being under the age of 12 and 76 of them were adolescents. About 76% of the parents reported that they had only not lived in a home for less than month and the biggest reason for the families to be in the shelter was due to financial reasons. The next sample of participants came from very low income families that did live in housing and were found based on food programs in the area. The number of participants in the study was 53 families with a total of 62 children of whom 29 were below the age of 12 and 33 were adolescents. The parents were each given two questionnaires to fill out that determined what life experiences each target child had gone...
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