Research & Innovation
Homeless families: more common than one might think
About one in 14 fifth-grade students have been homeless at some point in their lives, suggests a population-based study of 5,147 fifth-graders funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health in August, was conducted by Mark Schuster, MD, PhD, chief of General Pediatrics at Children’s, along with collaborators from other institutions around the country.
Interviews of students and parents in Houston, Los Angeles and Birmingham, Alabama, conducted from 2004 to 2006, revealed that 7 percent of the families had experienced homelessness. The proportion was even higher among African American children and those from the lowest-income households. Children who had been homeless were more likely to have had an emotional, behavioral or developmental problem, to have witnessed serious violence and to have received mental health care. Schuster advises clinicians to be aware of the possibility that their patients could be homeless and in need of housing services and mental health care.