Homelessness in Children Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1704 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sociology

Homelessness in Children in the United States of America

When Homelessness arises in discussion in today's society, the typical image that is held concerning homelessness of children is that it is predominantly a problem only in other areas of the world and not in the United States. However, this could not be further from the tragic truth. The work of Bassuk et al. (2005) states that homelessness "...results form the combined effects of extreme poverty, lack of affordable housing, decreasing government supports, the challenge of raising children alone, domestic violence, and fractured social supports."

According to a report by the National Center on Family Homelessness, "at least 1.35 million children are homeless during a year's time..." In America. On any given day of the week there are 200,000 homeless children in the total of 800,000 adults who are homeless on any given day. (Burt, 2001; Burt, Aron, Douglas, et al., 1999; National Coalition for the Homeless, 2002; U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2002; as cited in the National Center on Family Homelessness, 1999)

II. EFFECTS on EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL & MENTAL HEALTHDownload full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Homelessness in Children Assignment

Bassuk et al. (2005) states: "The experience of homelessness puts families in situations where they are at greater risk of: (1) Additional traumatic experiences such as assault, witnessing violence, or abrupt separation; (2) Children, parents, and families are stressed not only by the nature of shelter living and the need to reestablish a home but by interpersonal difficulties, mental and physical problems, and child related difficulties such as illness; and (3) the stresses associated with homelessness can exacerbate other trauma-related difficulties and interfere with recovery due to ongoing traumatic reminders and challenges." (Bassuk, et al., 2005) Additionally related by Bassuk et al. (2005) is that the experience of homelessness: "...results in a loss of community, routines, possessions, privacy, and security. Children, mothers, and families who live in shelters need to make significant adjustments to shelter living and are confronted by other problems, such as the need to reestablish a home, interpersonal difficulties, mental and physical problems, and child-related difficulties such as illness. Homelessness also makes families more vulnerable to other forms of trauma such as physical and sexual assault, witnessing violence, or abrupt separation. The stress related to these risks comes in addition to the stress resulting from homelessness itself and can impede recovery due to ongoing traumatic reminders and challenges."

Other facts stated in the work of Bassuk et al. (2005) are those as follows:

Homeless children are sick at twice the rate of other children. They suffer twice as many ear infections, have four times the rate of asthma, and have five times more diarrhea and stomach problems.

Homeless children go hungry twice as often as non-homeless children;

More than one-fifth of homeless preschoolers have emotional problems serious enough to require professional care, but less than one-third receive any treatment;

Homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade compared to non-homeless children;

Homeless children have twice the rate of learning disabilities and three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems of non-homeless children;

Half of school-age homeless children experience anxiety, depression, or withdrawal compared to 18% of non-homeless children.

By the time homeless children are eight years old, one in three has a major mental disorder.

The National Center on Family Homelessness (1999) reports that homeless children have: (1) twice as many ear infections; (2) four times as many asthma attacks; (3) five times more stomach problems; (4) six times as many speech problems; and (5) twice as many hospitalizations. Furthermore it is report that children who are homeless are twice as likely to go hungry as other children. Homeless children have more MENTAL HEALTH problems that do other children with over 20% of preschoolers who are homeless having emotional problems so severe as to require care from a professional. Problems like anxiety and depression, or withdrawal are experienced by 47% of children who are homeless compared to only 18% of other children. (National Center on Family Homelessness, 1999; Institute for Children and Poverty, 1999) Approximately 20% of children who are homeless are without a regular medical care source with 15% being reliant completely upon hospital emergency rooms. Only 15% of children who are homeless are in preschool programs which is stated at "less than half the rate of all children nationally." (National Center on Family Homelessness, 1999; U.S. Department of Education, 1999)


There are several factors, or even combinations of factors that are causal in the state of homelessness and some of these are as follows:

1)the number of people without health care insurance rose by 1.4 million to 41.2 million, putting them at extreme risk of homelessness. An injury or serious illness can quickly wipe out a family's income causing them to lose their housing and become homeless;

2) Many mothers and children become homeless when they are forced to flee their homes to escape domestic violence;

3) 18% of homeless parents who had previously lived in their own apartments reported they left their residence because of domestic violence; and 4) 32% of homeless mothers report that their current or most recent partner was abusive. (Mills, 2001, National Center on Family Homelessness, 1999)


The National Center for Children on Homelessness states that while 'approximately 87% of school-age homeless children are enrolled in school, although only about 77% attend school regularly." (U.S. Department of Education, 2000) Some homeless children are denied the right to register for school without school and medical records and some bar students from registered without a home address and many times there is no transportation available for children in shelters to get to school. Homeless children are "four times as likely to have developmental delays..." (U.S. Department of Education, 2000) Homeless children are furthermore, "twice as likely to have learning disabilities; twice as likely to repeat a grade due to frequent absences." (U.S. Department of Education, 2000)


Research reports reveal that the soaring prices on available rental property in the United States has put housing of an affordable nature completely out of reach for the poorest Americans and furthermore in more than forty U.S. states the household of the renter face a housing wage (the wage a full time workers must earn to afford fair market rent) of more than twice the prevailing minimum wage." (National Center for Children on Homelessness, 1999) in fact, in these forty states two workers with minimum wage jobs who work 40 hours a week, and fifty-two weeks each year still cannot afford a two-bedroom home at Fair Market Rent. (National Center for Children on Homelessness, 1999; paraphrased) the work of Parks, Stevens and Spence entitled: "A Systematic Review of Cognition in Homeless Children and Adolescents" states: "...the cognitive function of homeless children and adolescents may be overlooked and report that their work attempted to discover whether homelessness might carry risks for the developing mind and brain. Reported is a "systematic review to examine whether cognitive impairments were reported in homeless children and adolescents. Cognitive impairments were noted in adolescents relating to the "context of drugs, physical and sexual abuse." (Parks, Stevens and Spence, 2007) in the United States "transient families with children and adolescents lose their community support systems, adversely affecting school participation, their ability to access 'stress' related mental health services, and health care." (Parks, Stevens and Spence, 2007) it is noted that the research material available relating to cognitive function in the homeless is lacking. The questions that Parks, Stevens and Spence sought to address were those of: (1) Do homeless children and adolescents exhibit cognitive impairments? (2) Are homeless children and adolescents more cognitively impaired than disadvantaged, domiciled children from comparable backgrounds." (Parks, Stevens and Spence, 2007) Findings of this study include the following facts: (1) Receptive vocabulary (measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) in homeless children found to be "generally in the 'moderately low' to 'extremely low' range"; (2) it was revealed in a 'sub-analysis' of the testing that 11% of homeless children were in "the 'mildly retarded' range and 35% were in the 'slow learner' borderline range"; and (3) Homeless children "...had 'three times' the cognitive and developmental problems that would be expected among children in general." (Parks, Stevens and Spence, 2007)


It is clear, that because of the developmental problems that result in homeless children and the physical, mental, and emotional barriers that these children face, that the outcomes in terms of the adult lives of homeless children is one that results in low-achievement and low-levels of economic success likely to be evidenced in the individual being perpetually among the homeless adults in society. Because homeless children live in a manner that their education is disjointed and one in which their emotional, physical, and mental development is affected these individuals are put at a high risk of homelessness in their adult lives due to the barriers and challenges resulting from the manner in which they developed in their early years.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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