Sociology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Community Ment Health J (2015)51


© Springer Science + Business Media New York 2014


This study provides a description of the physical, psychological, and substance use problems of adult homeless women who are and are not caring for children. We also examined differences in the characteristics of these two groups of women. Interviews were conducted with 148 homeless women from three mid-sized U.S. cities, 24.3% of whom were caring for at least one child. Our results showed that women caring for children were more likely to be sheltered and have health insurance. Homeless women caring for children and solitary homeless women were generally similar in terms of substance abuse problems. However, rates of Borderline Personality Disorder were higher among women caring for children than among solitary homeless women. Our results are somewhat consistent with previous research, with the exception of substance abuse problems and mental health problems, which were shown to be equally problematic for all women, regardless of current caregiving status.