Supporting Families Who Are Experiencing Homelessness

In 1991, a Philadelphia study found that homeless children had higher rates of accidents, injuries, and language delay. Specifically, compared with normative samples, preschool children scored lower on their receptive vocabulary and visual motor skills. Families who experience homelessness faced many factors, both external and internal, that affect their daily lives. Therefore, systems of support are essential to assist in a variety of ways.

Some specialists that can assist families include social workers, medical doctors, mental health counselors, speech-language pathologists, and teachers. Researchers found that 61% of homeless children younger than five years old had at least one developmental delay, and 44% exhibited two or more delays. These delays can set up the child to factor into the school to pipeline system without intervention assisting language.

Researchers state that much of children’s environmental exposure to language occurs through interactions with responsive caregivers in early childhood. To foster language development, specialists such as speech-language pathologists can work in a parent client interaction team to model language and speech in an early intervention program for children.

It is essential to consider how homelessness and poverty can have various factors that may influence language development and social-emotional delays. Suppose maternal sensitivity plays a mediating role with children who experience homelessness, and the child is given a multimodal intervention in preschool. In that case, social-emotional regulation will increase, and language delays in at least one out of four language modalities: auditory comprehension, verbal expression, reading, and writing will improve.

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