Title

Homelessness in the 21st Century: Research, Policy and Practice Implications Within the School Setting

First Presenter's Institution

Albany State University

Second Presenter's Institution

Kierra S. Allen

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Harborside East & West

Strand #1

Family & Community

Strand #2

Mental & Physical Health

Relevance

Public schools reported that 1.3 million students experienced homelessness at some point during the 2013-2014 school year. Having a stable home benefits children for a lifetime, improving their overall well-being, health, education and future employment opportunities. When families experience homelessness and housing instability, children suffer. They face a significantly higher risk of chronic or unaddressed health and developmental issues than their peers. Those issues can affect their education and employment opportunities and, ultimately, their success (United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), 2016).

Thus, the perception of homelessness in the United States extends beyond the unsheltered adults seen in metropolitan areas. Homelessness impacts not only the individual but also the persons and environments associated with the individual. Nearly one-quarter of homeless persons are children under the age of 18 (Henry, Cortes & Morris, 2013). It is a growing public health issue. The impact of homelessness among children and youth creates several adverse effects in the systems in which they exist. The home and the school setting are two of those systems and are two of the main agents of socialization that impact school aged children AND families. Both systems are critical to the successful academic and social learning environments of our youth. In the school setting, homeless children are more likely to have lower academic outcomes, decrease interest in academic achievement, poor nutritional intake, and an increase in behavioral problems and mental health diagnoses (Canfield, 2014).

Brief Program Description

The impact of 21st century homelessness has taken an unprecedented toll on families; thus within the academic setting, educators, social workers and counselors are faced with additional challenges that must be addressed in the effort to holistically meet the learning needs of all students. This session will address research, statistical data, policy implications and best practices to effectively address this public health issue.

Summary

Prior to the mid-1980s, homelessness was not deemed a federal issue. However, proponents for such legislation eventually created laws and programs that catered to people who were homeless (Mckinney-vento act, 2006).

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (MVA) has become a key factor to creating and implementing change in the lives of all homeless persons; and although it was designed to address the issues associated with homelessness, the concern of children and youth created an awareness that would otherwise be unaddressed. While the legislation ensures homeless children and youth are given the same opportunities and services available in order to thrive in the public school setting, the effectiveness of MVA relies heavily on its facilitation and implementation by school social workers. Thus, it is imperative for school social workers and other youth advocates to understand the biopsychosocial factors that influence the children not only in school but also in their lives outside of school (Canfield, 2014).

Given its complexity, family homelessness is not something that any single agency, level of government, sector, or system on its own can solve. Government, public agencies and schools, businesses, non-profits, and philanthropy all have roles to play in investing in and driving solutions. We must work together with urgency to ensure that every child grows up with opportunities to achieve their fullest potential. (USICH, 2016)

Statistical data addressing the impact of homelessness on children and families will be presented as well as the federal legislative response via the MVA with a focus upon the gaps and the limitations of its intended purpose within the family, the community and the school setting. Additionally, the implications for school social workers, educators and other stakeholders will be addressed along with a variety of evidence- based and theoretical practice models and frameworks (including Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the Ecological and the Systems Theories) and other best practice solutions, strategies and recommendations that are 21st century focused.

Evidence

Since its initial adoption into law in 1987, The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act has been revised accordingly with the changing of the times with the most recent amendment occurring via S. 896 The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009. So we know that it has not been 100% effective in addressing the needs of the homeless, particularly in regards to school aged homeless children, according to research. Based upon the bio-psycho-social and other assessments and practices of school social workers and others who advocate on behalf of homeless children and families, the gaps and the strengths of this particular policy have been consistently identified. Solutions and problem solving interventions and techniques have been applied and tested utilizing the various components of the policy as it pertains to family, school and community resources. Thus, the utilization of secondary data and theoretical evidence-based social work practices in conjunction with the practice wisdom of the advocates have been utilized to create and develop new and effective responses to address a variety of 21st century issues and concerns that impact the stakeholders within the family, the community and the school setting.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Irma J. Gibson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at the UNSINKABLE Albany State University; She is a Graduate faculty who teaches across the curriculum, including a variety of courses on the topics of child and family welfare, direct and indirect practice, human behavior and the social environment, interviewing and recording, self-awareness and professional development, school social work and social work practice with vulnerable populations . She joined the ASU family after teaching six years at the Savannah State University and she has taught abroad annually since 2009 and crossed international borders in her successful endeavors to culturally connect the U.S. and the Trinidad and Tobago child and family welfare systems. She has had opportunities to present regionally and nationally on the topics of service learning, child and family welfare and a genre of social work topics and themes. She has also published.

She entered into the academy fulltime approximately 10 years ago after 21 years of social work practice and experience as a clinician and a social work administrator with various components of the federal government, nationally and internationally. The populations whom she served included the homeless, those suffering from addiction and mental health issues, active duty military and veterans of the armed services and their families. Additional and ongoing opportunities to serve include various endeavors with the Department of Family and Children Services, the Department of Veteran affairs and the Rainbow Operation Push organization.

Miss Kierra S. Allen is a 2014 University of Georgia undergraduate who is in her second year as a graduate student in the Department of Social Work at Albany State University. Under the mentorship of at least two of her professors she has been privileged to present research based poster projects at a variety of conferences. After her Spring 2017 graduation, she aspires to eventually pursue her Ph.D. to embark upon more opportunities to engage in research and to produce scholarly manuscripts about a number of social problems and global issues. During the Summer of 2016, she became a global ambassador after studying abroad for 30 days in Trinidad and Tobago.

Keyword Descriptors

homeless families; homeless youth; school social work; mckinney veto act;

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 4:00 PM

End Date

3-7-2017 5:30 PM

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Mar 7th, 4:00 PM Mar 7th, 5:30 PM

Homelessness in the 21st Century: Research, Policy and Practice Implications Within the School Setting

Harborside East & West

The impact of 21st century homelessness has taken an unprecedented toll on families; thus within the academic setting, educators, social workers and counselors are faced with additional challenges that must be addressed in the effort to holistically meet the learning needs of all students. This session will address research, statistical data, policy implications and best practices to effectively address this public health issue.