Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

November 2020

Conference Location



Over two million children experience homelessness annually in the United States, often disrupting their healthcare. The purpose of this study, spearheaded by the National Network to End Family Homelessness (NNEFH), was to understand the role of primary care providers who serve children and families experiencing homelessness. Specifically, we sought to describe best practices for screening for housing-unstable families and providing optimal care for these patients once identified.In addition to a thorough literature review on screening for housing instability, we conducted a qualitative study employing semi-structured, in-depth interviews with clinicians and administrators working in healthcare organizations serving children and families.All clinics performed housing screening, applying a mix of validated and unique tools based on their patient population; also providers were well-versed on common health challenges among persons experiencing homelessness. Most clinics reported that they addressed mental health needs of children and of their caregivers. Every clinic identified at least one barrier to optimum care provision, most commonly: access to reliable transportation, communication with patients, lack of affordable housing, and patient load and complexity.This study specifically examined strategies for optimum care provision for housing-unstable children and families. Similar to existing literature on adults experiencing homelessness, the most prominent challenges reported in this study were structural and resource barriers. In developing technical assistance for sites similar to those in our study, interviewees recommended support for the development and maintenance of collaboration across sectors and mechanisms for facilitating policy and systems change.Join Public Health faculty member Meghan Mason, medical professionals from the NNEFH Health Committee, and student research assistants for a presentation about our recent and future efforts to address family housing instability in primary care settings, followed by Q&A with the NNEFH Health Committee members.

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