Psychology, Department of



Julia C. Torquati

Date of this Version



Published in Encyclopedia of Homelessness, ed. David Levinson (Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications, 2004). Copyright © 2004 SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


How can parents successfully care for their children in the context of homelessness? This is a significant question because families with children represent approximately 40 percent of the homeless population in the United States, and the number of homeless children has been growing since the early 1980s. Negative consequences of homelessness to children’s health, education, and emotional and social development have been well documented. Homeless families in the United States can be considered a subset of limited-resource families, and as such they share some of the same challenges to effective parenting. However, homeless parents face additional challenges, and these challenges have two distinct origins: First, homeless parents as a population have significantly higher levels of several risk factors that can compromise parenting, regardless of current housing status; and second, being homeless poses threats to parenting beyond those experienced by housed families in poverty.