Having previously done research on the subject of homelessness last summer through a grant provided by the non-profit organization Imagine LA, Isabela Osthoff-Magalhaes ’13 wrote a comprehensive report on the financial costs associated with homeless families in the United States and Los Angeles. Specifically, wtheycame up with a return on investment (ROI) for homeless families and the services that are provided to them by such organizations as Imagine LA. What they concluded from their extensive research was that homeless families experience a wide range of challenges and obstacles that go far beyond the need for immediate shelter. While some of these needs are immediately ameliorated when the family is housed (e.g., nutritional stability and physical health), many continue if the family continues to live in poverty (e.g., mental health issues, educational difficulties) and others continue regardless of poverty/housing status (e.g., special education services, obesity, etc.). The types of services provided to homeless families should be extensive and reflect these diverse needs.
This semester, they have turned their attention to the needs of homeless children. They are working on publishing an article that outlines the specific physical, cognitive, and social challenges faced by homeless children based on age range, and the ways in which school teachers, administrators, and special education service providers can address them. In this way, they can help ensure that homeless children and youth can receive the free and appropriate educational experience and opportunities as their housed counterparts.