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Working with Children and Families in Homeless Situations

Title: Working with Children and Families in Homeless Situations: An Exploratory Study of Early Childhood Professionals’ Knowledge, Practices, and Needs.
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Name(s): Salim Bakare, Nebi, author
Jones, Ithel, professor directing dissertation
Akiba, Motoko, university representative
Dennis, Lindsay Rae, committee member
Rice, Diana Claries, 1949--, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Education, degree granting college
School of Teacher Education, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2016
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (205 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Annually, about 3.5 million Americans of all ages, ethnicities, and professions experience homelessness (National Coalition for the Homeless [NCH], 2009c). About one-third of the total homeless population is comprised of families, and families with children are among the fastest growing segments of the population (NCH, 2009b). It is reported that homelessness is typically a recurrent experience that results in children’s educational, emotional, and physical needs being neglected as families struggle to obtain stable housing and other basic needs (Nunez, 2000). While families in homeless situations – currently homeless, previously homeless, and at-risk of homelessness – face many challenges and issues, one frequent difficulty is the enrollment of their young children in child care or preschool programs. Although the McKinney-Vento Act stipulates that educational agencies must review and revise laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youth (National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth [NAEHCY], n.d.a.; United States Department of Education [U.S. DOE], 2002, 2004), it is estimated that only 16-21% of homeless preschoolers are enrolled in child care programs, while the rate of all children nationally is 53% (Nunez 2000; U.S. DOE, 2004). Clearly, the existence of the McKinney-Vento Act alone is not enough to remove the barriers to enrolling children in homeless situations in child care programs. Early childhood professionals – center owners/ directors (O/Ds), family advocates (FAs), assistant center directors/center lead teachers (ADs/CLs), lead teachers (LTs), and assistant teachers (ATs) – are also in key positions to ensure that the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Act are consistently applied to assist families in homeless situations access educational opportunities for their young children. However, very few empirical studies have addressed the ways or the extent to which early childhood professionals (ECPs) are responsive to the needs of children and families in homeless situations. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how ECPs work with children and families who are in homeless situations. Specifically, the researcher examined (1) the specialized knowledge ECPs have about children and families in homeless situations and their unique needs; (2) the practices ECPs implement to be responsive to the needs of children and families in homeless situations; and (3) what ECPs believe they need so that they can work more effectively with children and families in homeless situations. In-depth interview data and supporting documents were collected from a purposeful sample of 14 ECPs employed at six different child care centers. Then, the data were analyzed using a qualitative thematic approach. The data revealed that ECPs have specialized knowledge about who is likely to experience homelessness; they understand the adverse impact of homelessness on child development and family well-being; and they recognize the need and importance of providing family-oriented child care services. The practices ECPs implement to be responsive to the needs of children and families in homeless situations include the three Rs – recruiting families, reducing barriers to enrollment and attendance, and referring families to community agencies; building trusting and supportive relationships; and implementing individualized strategies in the classroom. In order to work more effectively with children and families in homeless situations, ECPs believe they need public and private funding to make child care programs more accessible; specialized professional development to learn best practices for working with this population; and policy changes to support child success and family stability.
Identifier: FSU_FA2016_SalimBakare_fsu_0071E_13621 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the School of Teacher Education in partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester 2016.
Date of Defense: November 16, 2016.
Keywords: Children and families, Early childhood, Exploratory study, Homeless, Qualitative
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Ithel Jones, Professor Directing Dissertation; Motoko Akiba, University Representative; Lindsay Dennis, Committee Member; Diana Rice, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Early childhood education
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_FA2016_SalimBakare_fsu_0071E_13621
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Salim Bakare, N. (2016). Working with Children and Families in Homeless Situations: An Exploratory Study of Early Childhood Professionals’ Knowledge, Practices, and Needs. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_FA2016_SalimBakare_fsu_0071E_13621