Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type

Literature review and analysis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School for Social Work


Mary Beth Averill


This thesis is a review and analysis of the literature on mental health interventions that may be effective for treating homeless young children living in emergency shelters or transitional housing. It begins with a discussion of family homelessness in the United States, and continues with a review of the literature on relationships among maternal mental health, children’s mental health, and homelessness. While homelessness is associated with increased maternal mental illness, the association between homelessness and children’s wellbeing appears to be mediated by the mother-child attachment relationship. Therefore, a discussion of attachment theory, attachment in homeless and impoverished children, and the implications of attachment for children’s mental health follows. Several evidence-based mental health interventions for young children that focus on attachment relationships are reviewed, and their feasibility in homeless shelters or transitional housing discussed. This thesis concludes with a discussion of evidence-based practice and recommendations for policy, practice, and future research.


©2018 Kimberly McKittrick. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




iii, 167 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 149-167)