Mother-child separations among homeless and housed families receiving public assistance in New York City

Kirsten Cowal, Marybeth Shinn, Beth C. Weitzman, Daniela Stojanovic, Larissa Labay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examined the incidence, characteristics, and predictors of separations of children from mothers in 543 poor families receiving public assistance, 251 of whom had experienced homelessness during the previous 5 years. Forty-four percent of the homeless mothers and 8% of housed mothers were separated from one or more children. A total of 249 children were separated from 110 homeless families and 34 children from 23 housed families. Children were placed with relatives and in foster care but were rarely returned to their mothers. Maternal drug dependence, domestic violence, and institutionalization predicted separations, but homelessness was the most important predictor, equivalent in size to 1.9 other risk factors. We infer that policies regarding child welfare and substance abuse treatment should be changed to reduce unnecessary placements. Studies of homeless children who remain with families may be biased if separated children are excluded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-730
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2002

Fingerprint

Public Assistance
assistance
Mothers
Homeless Persons
homelessness
Substance-Related Disorders
homeless child
homeless family
Homeless Youth
Institutionalization
Domestic Violence
drug dependence
Child Abuse
Child Welfare
child welfare
domestic violence
institutionalization
substance abuse
incidence
Incidence

Keywords

  • Children
  • Families
  • Foster care
  • Homelessness
  • Parent-child separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Mother-child separations among homeless and housed families receiving public assistance in New York City. / Cowal, Kirsten; Shinn, Marybeth; Weitzman, Beth C.; Stojanovic, Daniela; Labay, Larissa.

In: American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 30, No. 5, 10.2002, p. 711-730.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cowal, Kirsten ; Shinn, Marybeth ; Weitzman, Beth C. ; Stojanovic, Daniela ; Labay, Larissa. / Mother-child separations among homeless and housed families receiving public assistance in New York City. In: American Journal of Community Psychology. 2002 ; Vol. 30, No. 5. pp. 711-730.
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