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Homeless families in St. Louis: a report from the field

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In May, June, and September of 1998, 169 residents of the largest homeless shelter in Missouri were surveyed in response to the Institute for Children and Poverty’s February 1998 request to continue research on homeless families in other areas of the country. Our findings corroborate the New York City data of the Institute for Children and Poverty (ICP), with these notable differences:

• For the women in our study, the experience of childhood violence and abuse was significantly higher than that reported in the ICP study.

• The number of children in homeless single-parent families in which the parent is beyond childbearing years was higher than the ICP-reported average (2.7 children).

• Older respondents were more likely to have graduated from high school than younger respondents.

• Compared to the ICP┬┤ is respondents, fewer of our survey’s respondents had previously lived on their own and more had stayed with family and friends.

• Significantly more residents in our study had no medical insurance. In addition,

• We gathered information on how many non-high school graduates had earned their GED and how many had attended or graduated from college.

• Our respondents were asked in what career fields they wanted to work.

• We gathered data on nicotine, alcohol, and drug abuse among our residents.

• We asked respondents if their children had the same father. Based on this survey, we concluded that programs for homeless children aimed at keeping them in school, improving their education, and helping them to form and realize career goals—as well as services such as counseling and mentoring—are necessary to keep homeless children from becoming homeless adults.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2000

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