Date Approved

2009

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Valerie Polakow, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Martha Baiyee, PhD

Committee Member

Rebecca Martusewicz, EdD

Abstract

This qualitative study investigates and analyzes the barriers faced by homeless children and their families in southeast Michigan. The experiences of current or formerly homeless families are documented in relation to perceived obstacles and supports in their schools and child care centers through open-ended, semi-structured interviews and ethnographic classroom observations. A small sample of parents, children, teachers, and case workers are interviewed, and nine children are observed in three schools. The analysis of data reveals significant barriers and obstacles for children who experience indifferent and demeaning treatment in their school environments. Conversely, the findings point to significant benefits for homeless children in caring and committed school environments, where school personnel advocate for the educational rights of homeless children. Recommendations include training of teachers and other school personnel to facilitate awareness and sensitivity to the social and educational needs of homeless children, and the creation of respectful and inclusive school environments.

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