A fourth of the children staying at homeless shelters across Wake County are in need of mental health services and are at increased risk for developmental delays, social and emotional problems and problems at school, according to a study released Thursday.
The study, conducted by researchers at N.C. State University and a Salvation Army-funded project called Community Action Targeting Children who are Homeless, or CATCH, says homeless children need more screening and support. It was published Thursday online in the Early Childhood Education Journal.
“These children have often been exposed to domestic or neighborhood violence, chronic poverty, inadequate healthcare and other circumstances that place any children at risk of mental health problems,” Mary Haskett, a professor of psychology at NCSU and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
The researchers also found that the children’s language and academic skills were below average, with boys faring worse than girls.
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The research drew on data collected on 328 children aged 2 months to 6 years old who were staying at 11 shelters in Wake County.