January 15-17, 2014
in New York City
In January, DARE Director Joan Eichner presented at the ICPH
conference, Beyond Housing: A National
Conversation on Child Homelessness and Poverty. The conference brings
together service providers, researchers, policymakers, and many others working
with families and children experiencing poverty and homelessness.
Children living in poverty and homelessness are at risk for
experiencing "toxic stress" that can alter the developing brain and
body, cause lifelong physical and mental health problems, lost productivity,
and perpetuate poverty over generations. Joan’s talk, called: "Young Children
Experiencing Homelessness, Adversity, and Trauma: An integrated look at
improving outcomes and services" presented the findings of a needs assessment,
parent and staff interviews, and over three years of collaborative work in
Allegheny County to support early childhood social-emotional development and
parent-child relationships in local homeless housing agencies.
The presentation drew on landmark public health research
known as the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, which shows a strong
"dose-response" relationship between adversity in childhood and risky behaviors
leading to physical and mental health problems throughout the lifespan.
Individuals who experience abuse, neglect, or other traumas in their first 18
years are at much higher risk for experiencing multiple traumas and having some
of the most pressing public health conditions of our time, such as heart
disease, cancer, depression, and drug use. Toxic stress is one theory that can explain why children with adverse life events have poor
health later on. Toxic stress is intense or prolonged stress (such as that
caused by abuse or neglect) that is not buffered by a supportive, loving
relationship with an adult. For a young child this can be extremely detrimental
Joan spoke about opportunities to bring research to practice
and intervene early to reduce stress and adversity in the lives of young
children in adverse situations.
View the slides here.