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Early Educational Needs of Young Children Experiencing Homelessness Melissa Radey, Ph.D. & Nebi Salim Bakare, M.A., Ph.D. StudentFlorida State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Early Educational Needs of Young Children Experiencing Homelessness Melissa Radey, Ph.D. & Nebi Salim Bakare, M.A., Ph.D. StudentFlorida State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Early Educational Needs of Young Children Experiencing Homelessness Melissa Radey, Ph.D. & Nebi Salim Bakare, M.A., Ph.D. StudentFlorida State University College of Social WorkCollege of Education

2 How many US families and children experience homelessness? Homeless families comprise roughly 34% of the total homeless population. Approximately 1.35 million children will experience homelessness over the course of a year including 200,000 on any given day. Homelessness disproportionately affects families with the youngest children. Over one-half of homeless children (51%) are under the age of six, compared to just 34% of all American children.

3 Difficulties of Being a Child Experiencing Homelessness Children experiencing homelessness are four times more likely to show delayed development and twice as likely to have learning disabilities. 20% of preschoolers experience emotional problems. 16% of homeless preschoolers have behavior problems including severe aggression and hostility.

4 Early Education Enrollment Less than 16% of eligible homeless children are enrolled in preschool programs compared to over 50% of low- income preschool-age children.

5 Why are children under-enrolled? Myth: Moms experiencing homelessness do not want their children enrolled in school or don’t see value in early education.

6 Why are children under-enrolled? Stigma Mothers will have to admit to homelessness to outsiders (e.g., school system, child’s teacher). Children will be labeled by their peers as “shelter children.”

7 Why are children under-enrolled? Logistical obstacles Pre-school waiting lists Transportation (to arrange care and to attend school) Unstable housing arrangements

8 Why are children under-enrolled? Fear Fear of losing their children due to their inability to provide them with basic necessities Fear of proper care to their children

9 Child Welfare System & Homelessness: What is Child Neglect? Federal Definition Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; OR An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

10 Child Welfare System & Homelessness: The Intersection Families experiencing homelessness often encounter the child welfare system. 50% of foster children’s birth parents had a history of homelessness. 26% of families whose children were in out-of-home care experienced eviction, 42% reported living in a doubled-up situation, and 29% reported experiencing homelessness. Homeless parents who report a history of foster care are almost twice as likely to have their own children placed in foster care as homeless people who were never in foster care.

11 Child Welfare System & Homelessness: The Intersection Foster children experience higher rates of homelessness than other children. 30% of children in the foster care system have a homeless or unstably housed parent. 20% of child welfare cases indicated that the families' lack of appropriate housing influenced the decision to remove the child or delay in family reunification. 30% of children in foster care could be reunited with their parents if safe and affordable housing were available.

12 Cycle of Homelessness and Foster Care Single mother struggles to maintain family when battling mental illness and substance abuse. Single mother go under scrutiny of agencies and children are removed from their parents and placed into foster care. Single mother suffers abuse and trauma.

13 Developmental Domains Susceptible to Risk Motor/Physical Fine; Gross Social-Emotional Moral; Behavioral Cognitive Sensory/Perceptual; Thinking Communication/Language Verbal; Non-verbal

14 Discussion Question Why are children experiencing homelessness at risk of developmental delays?

15 Risk Factors for Developmental Delays Lack of experiences Brain development is “activity dependent.” Lack of “serve and return” relationships Harsh parenting, maltreatment Insecure attachments brain.html

16 Risk Factors for Developmental Delays Family disorganization; lack of supervision Parental conflict and/or substance abuse Exposure to toxins In utero Environment

17 Risk Factors for Developmental Delays Exposure to Violence Domestic Community Media School

18 Risk Factors for Developmental Delays High mobility Poor schools Childhood trauma Lack of adequate nutrition

19 Risk Factors for Developmental Delays Brain development and nutrition Most sensitive between mid-gestation and two years of age Malnourished children have inadequate brain growth. Reduced physical growth Lasting behavioral and cognitive deficits brain.html:

20 Chronic or extreme adversity Lack of access to medical care and social services Developmental Delays

21 fs/inbrief_series/inbrief_the_impact_of_early_adversity/

22 Toxic Stress Stress Levels Positive, Tolerable, Toxic Toxic stress prolonged exposure to stress in the absence of protective relationships Toxic stress damages brain architecture. InBrief Series:

23 briefs/inbrief_series/inbrief_the_science_of_ecd/

24 “What homeless children need most of all is a home…but while they are experiencing homelessness, what they need most is to remain in school. School is one of the few stable, secure places in the lives of homeless children and youth - a place where they can acquire the skills they need to help them escape poverty.” National Coalition for the Homeless, 1998

25 Increasing Preschool Enrollment Link parents to a network of community resources Provide transportation Priority enrollment Flexible policies Outreach efforts

26 Increasing Preschool Enrollment: Training Case workers; Shelter Personnel McKinney-Vento Preschools: Center directors and Teachers McKinney-Vento; School and classroom strategies Parents Child development; Impact of risk factors on brain development

27 HANDOUT: SPECIFIC CLASSROOM PRACTICES: Supporting Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness

28 National Center for Homeless Education Tip Sheets An audience-specific overview of how to ensure educational access and success for children and youth experiencing homelessness. School Administrators Guidance Counselors School Nurses Teachers Secretaries and Enrollment Personnel Parents Pupil Transportation Directors

29 Mechanisms to Assist Young Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness Stable housing Continuity of care Support mothers to support their families (e.g., provide parenting skills) Early intervention

30 Resources National Center for Homeless Education Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth


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