Abstract: Predictors of Resilience Among Children in Families That Have Experienced Homelessness (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

441 Predictors of Resilience Among Children in Families That Have Experienced Homelessness

Thursday, June 2, 2016
Bayview A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Scott Brown, M.Ed., Ph.D. Student, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Marybeth Shinn, PhD, Professor, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Velma M. Murry, PhD, Professor, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Homelessness is often, but not consistently associated with negative developmental outcomes for children in multiple domains including physical health, mental health, development, and education. In addition to risks associated with poverty, homelessness may also be associated with a number of factors that may constitute more proximal risks for youth, including instability, material hardship, and parental distress, all of which may affect parenting. Using an ecological-developmental framework, we draw on data from a multi-site study of interventions for homeless families to explore factors associated with profiles of resilience at multiple ecological levels for children who have experienced homelessness. Our analysis to date has focused on housing instability, economic hardship, and the extent to which these are mediated within the family by parental distress and parenting. We also plan to examine whether experimentally induced changes in housing instability or economic stress from the program interventions have direct or indirect causal impacts on child resilience.

Latent class analysis of multi-domain outcomes for 1,126 children age 8 to 17 profiled two-thirds of children as resilient across multiple outcome domains. One-third of children were in a high-risk class with elevated mental health, educational, and social challenges, with children age 13 to 17 displaying higher risk. With respect to direct effects, more stable parenting environments and greater school stability were associated with resilience across ages, with the influence of other factors, such as exposure to stressful life events and parenting style, differing across age groups. Results from a structural equation model analysis suggest that greater housing instability and increased economic stress had negative indirect associations with resilience via increased parental psychological distress, which in turn was associated with greater instability in parenting environments.

We draw three key conclusions regarding risks to health and well-being faced by children exposed to homelessness from our analyses to date. First, we note that a substantial proportion children who have experienced homelessness display resilience. Second, parenting appears to be a key factor in promoting resilience in the face of experiences of economic and housing instability, with maintenance of stable family routines and lower levels of environmental disruptions being strongly associated with resilience. Finally, age differences in risk profiles and predictors of resilience support a developmental-ecological framework both for prevention interventions directly targeting children and those that target the family context in which children are embedded.