Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Families Who Experience Poverty (Homeless or Housed): Relationships Between Mothering Occupations and Children's Outcomes
Author Affiliations
  • Saint Louis University
  • Saint Louis University
Article Information
Early Intervention / Health and Wellness / School-Based Practice / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Families Who Experience Poverty (Homeless or Housed): Relationships Between Mothering Occupations and Children's Outcomes
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505125. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO3014
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505125. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO3014
Abstract

Date Presented 4/8/2016

Housing’s impact on mother’s self-efficacy, child’s social skills, and mother’s perceived importance of these skills and the variables’ relationships support a two-generation, strength-based approach to occupational therapy intervention promoting enhanced mothering occupations in families experiencing homelessness.

Primary Author and Speaker: Colleen Huston

Additional Author and Speaker: Debra Rybski

RESEARCH QUESTION: Do families who experience poverty as homeless or housed differ in reported mother’s self-efficacy, child’s social skills, and mother’s perceived importance of these skills? Are there associations between these variables?
RATIONALE: Many children who experience poverty, either homeless or housed, may undergo significant adverse early experiences. Toxic stress may impair a child’s learning, social skills, and overall health. Yet some overcome this adversity. This is attributed to resilience, closely associated with a stable, supportive adult relationship, typically with a parent. However, mothers who live in poverty may struggle to develop this relationship due to financial, social, and health concerns. The negative impact of these challenges on mothering can be mediated by a mother’s self-efficacy. A mother’s self-efficacy is also connected to her behavioral expectations, or her perception of importance of her child’s abilities.
To understand the occupation of mothering within the context of poverty, this study investigates housing’s impact on mother’s self-efficacy, child’s social skills, and mother’s perceived importance of these skills, as well as relationships between these variables.
DESIGN: Quantitative methods described the data gathered from mothers and compared mother’s self-efficacy, child’s social skills, and mother’s perceived importance of these skills between groups.
PARTICIPANTS: Ninety-one mothers with a preschool child were interviewed. Forty-five mothers experiencing homelessness from four transitional living centers and 46 mothers in low-income housing from two Head Start centers were recruited. Mothers were 97% Black or multiracial.
METHOD: The Social Skills Rating Scale measured children’s social skills performance (C–SS) as well as mother’s perceived importance of her child’s social skills (M–IMP). The Parent Sense of Competence Scale measured mother’s self-efficacy (M–SE).
ANALYSIS: Univariate and correlation statistics were used to analyze the data. A t test examined differences between mean variables. A Pearson’s correlation described relationships among the variables.
RESULTS: C–SS was significantly different between groups, t(91) = –1.96, p = 0.05. Between-groups difference was not significant in M–SE, t(91) = 0.895, and M–IMP, t(91) = 1.35. The correlation between M–SE and C–SS was significant, r(91) = .299, p < .05. The correlation between M–SE and M–IMP was not significant, r(91) = .110. The correlation between C–SS and M–IMP was not significant, r(91) = .123.
DISCUSSION: In children who experience homelessness, C–SS is significantly lower than in children who are housed, emphasizing the negative impact homelessness has on a child’s development. Although prior research linked the experience of homelessness to adverse aspects of mothering, this study showed no significant difference in M–SE and M–IMP between the two groups. These variables are consistent despite environmental challenges and may indicate potential strengths for families experiencing homelessness. The positive correlation between M–SE and C–SS indicates that changes in M–SE may be related to changes in a child’s performance, as noted in the literature, supporting a two-generation approach to intervention. M–IMP is not related to C–SS or M–SE. Because M-IMP often guides intervention, aspects of mothering’s influence on M–IMP should be further researched.
IMPACT STATEMENT: Homelessness can impede child occupational performance. Mother’s self-efficacy, child’s social skills, and mother’s attributed importance of these skills provide evidence for a two-generation, strength-based approach to occupational therapy intervention, particularly when serving families experiencing homelessness.