Is A "Home" Better Than Being Homeless?
by bstre3 on March 13, 2014 - 10:16pm
Foster care attempts to create a loving environment for those without a home. However, these so called “homes” that parentless children are placed into are often unstable and potentially cause later trust issues within individuals after they age out of the system. Authors Angela L. Hudson and Karabi Nandy found interest in researching and comparing the differences of substance abuse, high-risk sexual behavior and depressive symptoms among homeless adolescents and young adults. They compared people from two different backgrounds: those who were homeless and had no history of being in the foster care system, and those who were homeless with a background of foster care. Their specific participant pool was consisted of 156 people and 44 of them had previous foster care backgrounds. Hudson and Nandy quote the National Alliance to end Homelessness that about 26,000 people age out of the foster care system in the United States every year, (Hudson A., Nandy K. 2012). This information was important to know as a statistic in their research. It shows the significant number of people who are in these systems and how so many people in our country are potentially at risk for developing harmful and dangerous habits. The 156 participants were recruited from a homeless site in Santa Monica, California for homeless young adults. The criterion for being considered homeless was living in a shelter, with friends, or on the streets. The criterion for being considered in this research study was being homeless and being between the ages of 15 and 25 (Hudson A., Nandy K. 2012). In order to obtain the necessary information from each participant, researchers used specific methods of data collection. They created a structured survey that asked age, ethnicity, gender, education and foster care history. Substance and alcohol use were measured by a TCU drug screener and history form, which records lifetime usage and the use of 16 different drugs within the past six months. They include cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, inhalants, hallucinogens and alcohol (Hudson A., Nandy K. 2012). In this study they also measured depressive symptoms of participants through the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Whether participants ever engaged in the trading of sex for money or drugs was also measured through survey (Hudson A., Nandy K. 2012). The statistics varied slightly for drug abuse depending on the substance. More participants with foster care histories had used cocaine compared to participants who did not have foster care backgrounds. According to Hudson and Nandy, 63.64% of participants who experienced foster care had used cocaine and 57.66% of participants who never experienced foster care had used cocaine (Hudson A., Nandy K. 2012).
Every research experiment has a purpose. Both of the authors’ purposes of conducting this research study were to compare different negative affects of being homeless. They wanted to compare the differences between those who are homeless and have been in foster care previously in their lives and those who have never been in foster care. The key question Hudson and Nandy are addressing is whether being in the foster care system in the United States affects negative behaviors and leads to worse outcomes than if a person was not ever in the foster care system. Background information is important to this research study; however, the data collected for high-risk sexual behaviors, substance and alcohol abuse and depressive symptoms are the essential factors in this specific case study. From this study, researchers learned that previous foster care in fact does not prevent negative outcomes and sometimes causes worse outcomes for some people who experience it. For instance, it was found that 18.60% of participants who had previous history of foster care in this study had previously traded sex for money whereas only 11.71% of those who did not have a history with foster care had ever traded sex for money (Hudson A., Nandy K. 2012). Because there is hardly a difference between the statistics of homeless people who have foster care history and those who do not with regards to high-risk sexual behavior, substance and drug abuse, and depressive symptoms the authors of this article assume that there is a lack of outreach and support systems for those who age out of the foster care system. This assumption makes sense because if you look at the endless cycle of distrust foster children experience as they are passed from family to family. The false sense of security a child gains and has taken away can potentially impact the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, the higher statistic of people with foster care backgrounds engaging in forms of prostitution does not surprise me because of the lack of stability these individuals have had their entire lives. Although both authors agree there is further research that can be conducted, they have certain implications about the subject (Paul R., Elder L. 2009. p. 11). They believe it would be beneficial to have certain programs and support systems for kids to experience in foster care before they leave foster care.