Relationships between caregiver violence exposure, caregiver depression, and youth behavioral health among homeless families.


Homelessness affects a large and increasing number of families in the United States, and exposure to violence and other potentially traumatic events is common among homeless families. It is important to understand more about this population and, more specifically, about the relationship between youth mental health and caregiver mental health and trauma exposure among homeless families, in order to better serve the needs of this vulnerable population. The objective of this study is to explore the relationships between caregiver exposure to violence, caregiver depression, and youth depression and behavioral problems among homeless families. Preliminary findings indicate that among this sample of homeless families, caregiver violence exposure has statistically significant relationships with both youth behavioral problems and youth depression symptoms, as mediated by caregiver depression. These findings indicate that youth behavioral health is associated with caregiver mental health, which, in turn, is associated with caregiver trauma exposure. This highlights the importance of taking into account adult mental health while treating youth externalizing and internalizing behaviors and ensuring that caregivers, too, have access to adequate treatment and supports. Furthermore, this treatment should be trauma informed, given the link between trauma and mental health.