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Ellen L. Bassuk, Jacqueline A. Hart, and Effy Donovan
Homelessness is a devastating experience for children and their families. Families, the majority of whose members are children, now comprise more than one-third of the overall homeless population. Most of these children are less than six years old. Various assumptions have driven policy and the allocation of resources to programs serving these families. Although decades of research and field experience suggest strategies for preventing and reducing this problem, perspectives differ, hindering the development of effective solutions. In this article, we explore some of these assumptions, including (a) definitions of homelessness used to count the numbers of families and determine resource allocation, (b) the needs of children and responses to the impact of adverse childhood experiences, and (c) whether services matter and should be integrated with affordable housing. We conclude by suggesting various directions to ensure that these children are protected and have the opportunity to grow and thrive.
Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Public Health, Volume 41 is April 1, 2020. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.