Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

John Fleming


Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Over half a million people in America experience homelessness and of those, 50% are sheltered families (Schultz-Krohn et al., 2021). As the rates of young homeless women and their families continue to rise, much of the literature focuses on men's experiences of homelessness (Andermann, et al., 2021). Thus, little research has been done on the effectiveness of support services available and how occupational therapy interventions can support mothers within and beyond housing facilities (Andermann et al., 2021; Roy et al., 2017; Schultz-Krohn et al., 2021). The circumstances leading into homelessness vary greatly between men and women, and to adequately support each, the interventions should as well (Andermann et al., 2021).

The complex nature of homelessness and the psychosocial affects it has on women can be detrimental to their successful participation in meaningful occupations or ADL and IADL. Homelessness is a life-altering event which affects everyone differently. It is a vulnerable population and a specific subgroup even more vulnerable and marginalized are homeless women and their children (Holtrop et al., 2013; McMaster et al., 2017). In order to provide effective interventions, it is important to know the unique needs and strengths of these women.

Evidence suggests clients may benefit from life skills courses addressing these specific topics: parenting, self-care, pre-employment, and money management. While the evidence does not specify differences in the levels of effectiveness between each life skill; the most important conclusion is that life skills courses offered should be specifically designed with the client’s needs in mind. Instructors should cultivate a trusting relationship and be mindful of the lived experiences of their clients (McMaster et al., 2017). Courses are recommended to be catered to the client in a safe and supportive environment, modifying the content of courses throughout,and providing the just right challenge (Gabet et al., 2020; Holtrop et al., 2013; McMaster et al., 2017). This project will advocate for the benefit of occupational therapy services by strengthening the evidence behind life skills interventions.

This project is intended to share evidence-based literature and enhance services provided to this population. It will identify and promote the use of specific life skill course(s) for treatment to promote occupational participation despite the barriers mothers face when experiencing homelessness. As occupational therapists are experts in occupations; this project will demonstrate to the House of Hope and other facilities alike, how occupational therapists can assist clients in creating opportunities for engagement in meaningful ADL and IADL.