The Needs of Young Families: Overview
Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, now constituting more than one-third of the overall homeless population. Single mothers in their twenties with very young children represent the vast majority of this subgroup. Most have experienced extreme poverty, been unstably housed, moved frequently and have limited education and work histories. Research indicates that more than 90% of homeless mothers have experienced physical or sexual abuse. Their children often present with multiple developmental delays (National Center on Family Homelessness, 2009a). As limited research is available describing young homeless families ages 18-25 with at least one child under the age of five, the Hilton Initiative sought to identify their needs and characteristics. Younger mothers have unique needs based on their age and stage of development (Bassuk et. al., 1996; Medeiros & Vaulton, 2010; Vaulton, 2008). This brief is designed to offer service providers a developmental framework for service delivery, highlighting targeted interventions that will ensure better outcomes for this subgroup.