This interdisciplinary project team studies the impacts of homelessness and housing insecurity on the educational and psychological experiences of children, youth, and their families. Working collaboratively with community partner Genesis Home, team members are pursuing two related lines of inquiry: (1) the implications of trauma identification for children and families in Durham’s transitional housing, and (2) quality practices to support educational needs of school-aged children at Genesis Home. Team members volunteer at Genesis Home’s after-school “Study Buddy” program in order to support Genesis Home goals of developing interventions to increase academic outcomes of youth in Genesis Home. DEPTH includes faculty in Duke’s Program in Education and Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

The 2014 report: America’s Youngest Outcasts: A Report Card on Child Homelessness indicates that a lack of housing stability is correlated with many negative outcomes for children, including developmental delay, academic struggle in school, truancy, grade repetition and increased likelihood of dropping out of school. Among homeless families, traumatic stresses such as interpersonal and community violence are prevalent occurrences and homeless mothers and children may suffer from its devastating consequences for the rest of their lives. Research suggests that these experiences impact a mother’s ability to become residentially stable, find jobs that pay livable wages, form trusting relationships, parent effectively, and have good long-term health outcomes.

Durham citizens are not immune to issues of homelessness. Durham’s 2014 Point-in-Time Count revealed 758 homeless persons (compares to759 persons in 2013; 698 in 2012). Less than three miles from Duke’s East Campus, Genesis Home is a local non-profit that responds to the very real problem of homeless youth in Durham. Genesis Home works to end homelessness for families with children by providing housing and supportive services to foster independence. At any given time, Genesis Home serves more than 30 children and their families.