Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Using data from two cross-sectional surveys, we examine how homeless adults living with children differ in sociodemographic characteristics, adverse childhood experiences, and addictive and psychiatric disorders from homeless adults who are not living with children. The surveys were conducted in late 1989 and early 1990 in Santa Clara County, California. Women (n=100) and men (n=41) with children were sampled from the two largest family shelters in the County (94% response rate); women (n=169) and men (n=1268) without children were sampled from the three main adult shelters in the County (98% response rate). Adults with children (especially women) were significantly younger, less educated, less likely to have experienced full-time employment, and more likely to have been supported by public assistance before first becoming homeless than adults without children. In addition, adults with children became homeless at younger ages, had been homeless for less time, and were less likely to experience multiple episodes of homelessness. Further differences were found for addictive and psychiatric disorders—adults with children were significantly less likely to enter homelessness with histories of excessive alcohol intake (both men and women) and psychiatric hospitalizations (women only) than adults without children. The distinct risk factor profile of homeless adults living with children renders them a critically important demographic group on which to focus new public health programs and social strategies.
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