When we think of homelessness we typically never consider the children that are involved. We see these people in our communities daily. They are often displaced for a variety of reasons. Some have mental illnesses and cannot take care of themselves and others are there for temporary monetary reasons. But what about the children? They are the small victims of something that is out of their control.
More than 1.6 million U.S. children are homeless each year and about 40 % of children residing in shelters are under the age of 7 years (National Center on Family Homelessness 2011), (Haskett, M., Armstrong, J., & Tisdale, J., 2016). Federal law defines children and youth who are homeless as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (McKinney-Vento Act, 2009). Could they overcome their mental, behavioral and emotional obstacles if they had a more structured lifestyle?
Poor child health is associated with the timing of homelessness across three specific critical developmental time periods: prenatal only, postnatal only, or both prenatal and postnatal versus never homeless. The hypothesis is that homelessness during any time period would be associated with poor child health outcomes, and those with both prenatal and postnatal homelessness would have the greatest adjusted odds of poor child health compared with those who were never homeless, those with prenatal homelessness only, or those with postnatal homelessness only. (Sandel, M., Sheward, R., Ettinger de Cuba, S., Coleman, S., Heeren, T., Black, M., Casey, P.H., Colton, M., Cook, J., Belker Cutts, D., Jacobs, R.R., & Frank, D.A., 2018). Schooling, however, may ameliorate some of the negative consequences of homelessness, and special education programs with more individualized teaching may be particularly beneficial. (Zima, B. T., Bussing, R., Forness, S. R., & Benjamin, B. 1997).
Youngsters who are homeless are twice as likely to have a learning disability and three times more likely to manifest emotional problems than their classmates who are not homeless. (Gargiulo, R.M., 2006). While we do not have all of the answers, there has been some research done that gives the reader a better sense of knowledge on how children who have learning disabilities may not have such disabilities if their quality of life was better. The research also demonstrates the effects of homelessness and how it effects the learning disabled student. Inadequate transportation may be a barrier in certain geographic areas because families may need to access services that are in more than one physical location, especially in the hypothetical case of a child with physical health needs, behavioral health needs, and educational support needs. (Lynch, S., 2018).
When children start to feel the effects of homelessness their self-esteem tends to dwindle. They often feel useless and become depressed. Addressing risk for mental health problems in homeless children requires insights of child development, psychiatry, mental health services, and social and economic development. (Marcal, K.E., 2017). A number of studies suggest that children experiencing homelessness tend to be characterized by low intellectual functioning,
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