Impact of Emergency Shelter Utilization and Kinship Involvement on Children’s Behavioral Outcomes

Lauren A. Hindt, Grace Jhe Bai, Brynn M. Huguenel, Anne K. Fuller, Scott C. Leon - Child Maltreatment


Youth in child welfare often experience emergency shelter care, a type of congregate setting, while a permanent placement is arranged. The present longitudinal study explored the impact of initial emergency shelter placement on long-term externalizing behavior (i.e., aggression, delinquency) and internalizing symptom (i.e., anxiety, depression) trajectories, and whether kinship involvement moderated the effect of shelter placement on behavioral outcomes. The sample consisted of 282 youths (55.3% male) with an average age of 9.90 years (SD = 2.37); 36.9% experienced an emergency shelter placement. Data were collected from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Caseworkers completed the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths, which measured youths’ behavioral outcomes. Results suggested that shelter care was not associated with externalizing behavior trajectories. However, shelter care was associated with internalizing symptoms among children with less kinship involvement. Results from this study suggest that best practices for shelter care should leverage kinship involvement.