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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

South Carolina: Research Examines Homelessness in Childhood and Adverse Childhood Experiences

Health services policy and management research assistant professor Dr. Elizabeth Radcliff and colleagues from the Rural and Minority Health Research Center and Children’s Trust of South Carolina have published a paper in the Maternal and Child Health Journal. In this publication, they examine homelessness in childhood and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Previous research on ACEs has provided a framework for understanding associations between childhood trauma, family dysfunction, and poor outcomes of well-being later in life. However, little research has examined ACES among adults who experienced homelessness in childhood; additional research is also needed with regard to the types of childhood adversities that are measured as ACEs.

With this cross-sectional study, Dr. Radcliff and her team study ACE exposure among adults who experienced homelessness during childhood. They used data from the 2016 South Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey and the corresponding ACE question modules.

Analyzing data from 7500 respondents, the researchers found 68.1 percent of the 215 respondents who reported homelessness during childhood experienced a total of four or more ACEs. Only 16.3 percent of respondents who reported no homelessness during childhood reported four or more total ACEs. Further, the respondents who reported childhood homelessness were much more likely to have experienced higher numbers and types of ACEs compared to those who had not experienced homelessness.

The authors suggest that these findings be considered by researchers developing additional indicators important to the assessment of ACEs, and to program developers or organizations that provide support to families and children experiencing homelesssness.

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