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Cityscape: Volume 16 Number 1 | Article 5


Housing, Contexts, and the Well-Being of Children and Youth

Volume 16 Number 1

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Promoting Resilience for Children Who Experience Family Homelessness: Opportunities To Encourage Developmental Competence

J.J. Cutuli
University of Minnesota

Janette E. Herbers
University of Minnesota

Any opinions, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or any other entity.

A developmental perspective on resilience is needed to inform policies and programs that respond to family homelessness. Homelessness and the experiences associated with it can threaten and disrupt healthy development in children, contributing to worse academic achievement, more emotional and behavioral problems, and lower levels of developmental competence in a variety of other domains. Scholarship on resilience and risk provides a framework for understanding how and why this happens, identifying ways to prevent and compensate for the negative impacts of the homeless experience on children. We first explain the fundamental concepts underlying this framework. Through a review of literature on risk and resilience among children in homeless families, we identify two ordinary but powerful adaptive systems that help children avoid or bounce back from the negative effects of homelessness on development—positive parenting and child self-regulation. We argue that policymakers and homeless services providers can enhance, support, and facilitate these systems to achieve better outcomes for children.

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