February 19, 2015
1 min read

About 25% of homeless children may require mental health services

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Approximately 25% of children who are homeless have an increased risk for developmental delays and challenges in mental health status, according to data published in the Early Childhood Education Journal.

“These children have often been exposed to domestic or neighborhood violence, chronic poverty, inadequate healthcare and other circumstances that place any child at risk of mental health problems,” Mary E. Haskett, PhD, professor of psychology at North Carolina State University, said in a press release.

Mary E. Haskett

Mary E. Haskett

Haskett and colleagues used data from the Community Action Targeting Children who are Homeless (CATCH) project, including 328 children aged 2 months to 6 years (median age, 2.3 years).

Data from the Age and Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional (ASQ:SE) indicate parents of 24.6% of the children reported significant concerns related to their child’s mental health status; parents of 28% of the boys and 21% of the girls also had increased concerns regarding their child’s mental health scores on the ASQ:SE.

Variability was evident in most age groups. However, toddlers’ scores in the communication portion of the ASQ:SE were very low (88.7), according to data. This score suggests language was a troublesome area for toddlers, according to researchers.

Additional findings show children with a higher level of parental concerns related to mental health status demonstrated developmental delays.

“Our findings, combined with the results of prior studies, indicate that children experiencing homelessness are at risk for developmental delays – especially in language functioning – and for social-emotional challenges,” the researchers wrote. – by Samantha Costa

Disclosure: Haskett reports no relevant financial disclosures.