16 Pages

The Impact of Homelessness on Children

Children, particularly preschoolers, are completely dependent on their families, especially their mothers. The following description of the mothers is based on a Massachusetts study of 80 homeless families with 151 children living in two-thirds of the 21 family shelters statewide. The families were interviewed between April and July, 1985. Data from the seven non-participating shelters suggested that their guests were similar to those in the study in terms of family composition, age, marital status, number of children and length of stay. The data appears to be reasonably representative of families residing in Massachusetts family shelters with two exceptions: (1) Latinos may be underrepresented, since the shelters arc generally filled to capacity and 10 to 15 families are turned away each week at the larger facilities; (2) those with substance abuse and severe mental illness are usually excluded first (Bassuk, Rubin & Lauriat, 1986).