Does a Baby Help Young Women Transition Out of Homelessness?

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Homeless youth are part of today’s urban communities, whether found on our downtown streets, “couch surfing” at a friend or relatives home, or staying at government or church-based shelter programs. We see these youth every day, yet in many ways they and their life experience remains unknown. Through recent research we now know something about what led them to be “homeless,” what behaviors they engage in and how these behaviors influence their health, what services are available to them and whether they are likely to use them. However, we know less about how these youth perceive their own choices and make decisions related to their own survival on the streets and in the period of transitioning out of homelessness over time. The purpose of this study was to follow young women who have or are in the process of transitioning out of homelessness to determine their success and obstructions to their success over time. Eighteen young women 18 and 26 with an average age of 21.2 were followed over a two year period. One main reason discussed by these women for transitioning out of homelessness was becoming pregnant or having a baby. While most of these women transitioned successfully out of homelessness to provide a home for their baby this was not a static transition. Most of these women experienced a high stress time when the baby became a toddler. Once the baby became a toddler most of the women experienced poorer mental and physical health, stress and increased use of soft drugs as a mode of coping. Most did not feel that they had the resources to handle their lives and their children. These results will be discussed using stress and coping theory.


Keywords: Homelessness, Young Women with Babies
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Brenda Elizabeth Munro

Professor, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Brenda Munro is a professor in the Department of Human Ecology. She teaches and conducts research in the areas of intimate relationships and youth at risk. Her current research projects include work with homeless youth and theatre the use of interactive theatre in working with youth who are thirteen to fourteen years old. Theoretical perspectives that have been applied in this research are identity development and attachment theory.

Patti LaBoucane-Benson

Director of Research and Evaluation, Native Counselling Services of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Patti LaBoucane-Benson is a Métis PhD candidate who grew up in St. Paul, Alberta. Her dissertation research is about Aboriginal Family Resilience, and she expects to complete June 2008. Patti’s research has received a number of awards including a Social Sciences and Research Council Doctoral Fellowship and a Doctoral Scholarship from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. She has worked for Native Counselling Services of Alberta for 10 years, and is currently the Director of Research and Communication. Patti has initiated and led of many community-based, applied research projects within the Aboriginal community in Canada, including a Costs Benefit Analysis in Hollow Water First Nation, the on-going evaluation of the Community Solution to Gang Violence and Alberta Aboriginal Legal Education Centre. She has also been part of the development of healing program curriculum for NCSA, and is the co-editor of the periodical “Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health Research”.

Dr. Lia Ruttan

Affiliation not supplied
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Prof. Gordon Bruce Munro

Affiliation not supplied
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Ref: I08P0102