The Montefiore community children's project: a controlled study of cognitive and emotional problems of homeless mothers and children

J Urban Health. 1999 Mar;76(1):39-50. doi: 10.1007/BF02344460.


Objectives: This study compares the prevalence of emotional, academic, and cognitive impairment in children and mothers living in the community with those living in shelters for the homeless.

Method: In New York City, 82 homeless mothers and their 102 children, aged 6 to 11, recruited from family shelters were compared to 115 nonhomeless mothers with 176 children recruited from classmates of the homeless children. Assessments included standardized tests and interviews.

Results: Mothers in shelters for the homeless showed higher rates of depression and anxiety than did nonhomeless mothers. Boys in homeless shelters showed higher rates of serious emotional and behavioral problems. Both boys and girls in homeless shelters showed more academic problems than did nonhomeless children.

Conclusion: Study findings suggest a need among homeless children for special attention to academic problems that are not attributable to intellectual deficits in either children or their mothers. Although high rates of emotional and behavioral problems characterized poor children living in both settings, boys in shelters for the homeless may be particularly in need of professional attention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Homeless Persons* / psychology
  • Homeless Youth* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • New York City
  • Prevalence
  • Psychological Tests
  • Sex Factors