SAMHSA’s Homelessness Resource Center (HRC) Announces New Research on Homelessness and Parenting

SAMHSA’s Homelessness Resource Center is announcing the release of a Special Section of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry focused on homelessness and parenting.  The Special Section, guest edited by the Homelessness Resource Center, includes the latest research on parenting in the context of homelessness.

Family homelessness in the United States increased by 9% in 2008, according to a recent report by HUD. The increase in numbers of families that are homeless highlights the urgent need for research to inform policy and programs that best support parents and children who are coping with homelessness.

The Homelessness Resource Center is sponsoring free open access to the electronic full-text of articles in the Special Section—FREE-Access-to-Full-Articles-403.aspx. To request a free hard copy of the entire issue, contact: [email protected]

The Special Section fills a significant gap in research on the challenges of family relationships in the context of homelessness. The articles include policy, practice, and research recommendations to support parents as they stabilize their lives, care for their children, and move out of homelessness.

The seven research articles in the Special Section cover topics including: the importance of social supports and non-traditional family networks for parents; recommended interventions for strengthening the parent-child bond; parent-adolescent violence and risks for behavioral health problems; foster care; family functioning; and supports for parents of adult children who are homeless.

In addition, two commentary articles provide perspectives about parenting. Gladys Fonfield-Ayinla, a formerly homeless mother, and Betty Schulz, an outreach nurse working with families in Baltimore’s urban homeless shelters discuss their experiences.

Research highlights from the Special Section include:

  • Determining that providing supports to improve parenting practices can help improve resiliency and emotional and behavioral health among children who are homeless.
  • Recognizing the important role of non-traditional family networks among families that are homeless.
  • Showing the filial therapy, an evidence-based mental health intervention can empower parents and offer safety and structure to children experiencing homelessness.
  • Identifying physical violence between parents and adolescents as a risk factor for later behavioral health problems among youth who become homeless.
  • Noting the importance of supporting parents who have children connected to the foster care system as a means of avoiding future generations of homelessness.
  • Revealing the additional, more severe impacts the adverse effects of homelessness can have on families dealing with other family risk factors.
  • Highlighting the higher stress levels experienced by parents attempting to support homeless adult children.

Funded by SAMHSA, the Homelessness Resource Center is dedicated to improving the daily lives of people who are homeless and who have mental illness, substance use problems, co-occurring disorders, or trauma histories. HRC is funded by SAMHSA’s Homeless Programs Branch, within the Center for Mental Health Services’ Division of Services and Systems Improvement. HRC’s work includes on-site and virtual training, technical assistance, knowledge products, and an interactive 2.0 website targeted to direct service providers.

Entry into the HRC community can be accessed by visiting and clicking on “Register.” Registered members can rate and comment on resources, network with other provider and consumer members, and receive regular e-mail updates from the HRC.

The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry is a publication of the American Psychological Association and is dedicated to informing public policy and professional practice, and to expanding knowledge related to mental health and human development from a multidisciplinary and interprofessional perspective. Visit:

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