'Compounding Stress: The Timing and Duration Effects of Homelessness on Children's Health'

'Compounding Stress: The Timing and Duration Effects of Homelessness on Children's Health'

The earlier and longer a child experiences homelessness, the greater the cumulative toll on his or her brain and body functions and the greater the likelihood he or she will suffer from a stress-related chronic disease later in life, an issue brief from Children's HealthWatch and the Center for Housing Policy at the National Housing Conference finds. Based on data collected from more than twenty thousand caregivers of low-income children with either government-provided or no health insurance at all, the brief, Compounding Stress: The Timing and Duration Effects of Homelessness on Children's Health (4 pages, PDF), found that prenatal and postnatal homelessness were associated with poor or fair health status, developmental risks, and a higher incidence of hospitalization. Given that a child's health and development are dependent on his or her mother's mental and physical well-being during pregnancy, the report also notes, interventions to prevent child and family homelessness before birth are critically important. Funded in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the brief calls for rapid re-housing programs for families and wraparound case management that coordinates services and ensures that the supports provided are integrated and individualized to meet a family's needs.