, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 197-210

Homeless Children: Needs and Services

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Abstract

This study explored needs of homeless children and shelter services available to them. The first phase of this mixed-method study consisted of open-ended interviews of key personnel in six diverse homeless shelters in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. This qualitative data gave direction to the creation of a questionnaire used in a larger follow-up survey of shelters in the state of Georgia. Roughly two-thirds of the 102 reporting shelters that served children provided food, clothing, and school supplies with 40% offering some form of transportation. More than 75% of the shelters were full and did not have space currently available for children, with an additional 10% having only one or two available beds. Most of the shelters lacked important services in the areas of medical and developmental assessments, access to education, childcare, and parent training. Forty-seven percent lacked onsite worker training in the characteristics and needs of homeless children. In addition, while the McKinney Act legally mandates ways to serve homeless children, findings indicate that over half of key informants in homeless shelters were unfamiliar with the law.