The Role of Housing Instability and Family Services for Children Living in Non-Parental Care
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Sample: This study utilized data from the Head Start Impact Study. We investigated the role of family service receipt (M = 3.02 months, SD = 1.15) and housing instability during prekindergarten (no moves = 61%; 1 or more moves = 39%) for a subgroup of children living in non-parental care (N = 278; 53% male). Mean child age was 48.26 months (SD = 6.99). Parent education levels were: 44% < high school; 36% high school; and 20% > high school.
Methods: Data were collected in the fall and spring of prekindergarten, and the spring of kindergarten. In the fall of prekindergarten, parents reported on demographic characteristics, and in the spring of prekindergarten, parents reported on housing instability in the last year. Parents also reported on receipt of family services (e.g., mental health services). Teachers rated internalizing and externalizing behaviors in the spring of prekindergarten and kindergarten using the Adjustment Scales for Preschool Intervention (ASPI; Lutz et al., 2002).
Results: Regression analysis was used to test all hypotheses. Interaction terms (housing instability*service receipt) were entered into regression models to test for moderating effects. The “cluster” command was utilized to account for nesting of children within child care centers. Main effects models (Model 1 in Tables 1 and 2) indicated that housing instability had a direct effect on externalizing behaviors: children who experienced housing instability during prekindergarten demonstrated more externalizing behaviors in kindergarten. A significant interaction term also emerged, indicating that children who did not move during prekindergarten and experienced more family services had the lowest frequency of internalizing problems in kindergarten (see Figure 1). These results have implications for coordinating housing and service systems for children living in non-parental care.