Regular Article

The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 225-243

First online:

A Comparison of Mothers with Co-occurring Disorders and Histories of Violence Living with or Separated from Minor Children

  • Joanne NicholsonAffiliated withCenter for Mental Health Services Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School Email author 
  • , Norma Finkelstein
  • , Valerie Williams
  • , Jennifer Thom
  • , Chanson Noether
  • , Megan DeVilbiss

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Data from the Women with Co-occurring Disorders and Histories of Violence Study are used to examine characteristics distinguishing mothers currently providing care for all their minor children (n = 558) from mothers separated from one or more minor children (n = 1396). Mothers are described and compared on background characteristics and experiences, well-being and current functioning, situational context, and services used. Analyses control for number of children, race, and years of education. Mothers separated from children have more children, less education, have more often been homeless, in juvenile detention or jail, and have lower incomes than mothers living with all their children. Mothers separated from children have more extensive experiences of traumatic and stressful life events, and the groups differ in current functioning and patterns of services used. While cross-sectional data do not allow causal inferences, challenges faced by mothers have significant implications for policy and programs.