Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More on Fragile Families and homelessness

The Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness released their second brief from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study not long ago. Again they are looking at the characteristics that make homeless families different from families that are poor, but do not become homeless. This time they looked at the mother’s education as a factor.

“Compared to mothers who experienced homelessness or were at risk of homelessness, stably housed mothers are both more likely to have attained a high school diploma and less likely to have pursued further schooling.” Who would have guessed it. We always assume that more education will improve your job prospects.

So, what is really happening?

The key is the type of advanced education being pursued. Both the costs and benefits of programs can vary significantly by program type. High cost, vocational or career programs rather than college may create more instability than opportunity. “For profit” colleges have been criticized for their recruiting practices, low graduation rates and poor career placement. So the mother who thinks she’s making life better for her children by enrolling in some programs often ends up a dropout, saddled with significant debt, and no better employment prospects than before.

How sad is that.