The Impact of Childhood Foster Care and Other Out-of-Home Placement on Homeless Women and Their Children
Objective: This study compares homeless women who had childhood histories of foster care or other out-of-home placement to those who have not.
Method: A countywide probability sample of homeless women (n = 179) received structured interviews.
Results: One-third of homeless women reported being raised apart from their parents. Among women with children under age 18, most (61.5%) had children who had lived in foster care or other out-of-home placements. Variables associated with homeless mothers’ children living in foster care or other out-of-home placements were: Child was school-age, mother was age 35 or older, mother had a current alcohol or drug use disorder, mother experienced childhood sexual abuse, and mother ran away from home (when under age 18).
Conclusions: Parenting is difficult for homeless mothers who may need to place their children with others to facilitate school attendance. Parent-child interaction may be problematic in family shelters where privacy is rare. Thus, programs promoting family preservation for homeless mothers should provide parenting support as well as permanent housing. (Authors)
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