An ecological study on child neglect outcomes among poor and low -income families in public housing

Joyce Dowdy Martin, Fordham University


This study examines the relationship between subsidized housing types for low-income families and child neglect outcomes, as mediated by the effects of adaptation. The researcher hypothesized that families who live in the least restrictive and most supportive environments would have different child neglect outcomes from those families who live in the more restrictive and non-supporting environments. However, those families who were more capable of adapting to environmental stress and had more access to social support resources, would have even fewer cases of child neglect, irrespective of the housing. ^ A random sample of 90 subjects were interviewed from the listing of subsidized public housing tenants in New London, Connecticut. Demographic data on family and parental characteristics such as, race, age and gender of parent, income, employment status, marital status, family composition, number of children, primary source of income and number of years in current housing were collected to determine if these antecedent variables influenced child neglect outcomes, the dependent variable. Adaptation, the intervening variable in this study, was measured by the respondents' score on the Family Index of Regenerativity and Adaptation Instrument (McCubbin, 1987). Housing, the independent variable in this study, was measured at a nominal level by a categorical response to a specific question determining the type of public housing the family currently resides in. Child neglect was measured at both nominal and ordinal levels (for purposes of statistical analysis options). A categorical response to a specific question on the family's history of child neglect provided the nominal level of measurement for child neglect. ^ The findings revealed some interesting associations between measures of adaptation and child neglect relative to housing. The comparison of families with no history of child neglect revealed significant differences relative to specific measures of adaptation (coping, stress, hardiness and social support). As it turned out, all of the variables in the logistic regression model accounted for a significant amount of the total variance of a family's history of child neglect. The accuracy of the model used to predict a family's history of child neglect revealed an 80 percent overall accuracy level, with an 89.5 percent accuracy level for predicting which families will likely have histories of child neglect. Families living in the townhouse model had a lower prevalence of child neglect and higher levels of adaptation compared to families in the high-rise and scattered-site models of public housing. When the effects of adaptation are controlled for, the findings provide ample evidence that adaptation is a moderating factor in understanding the relationship between housing and child neglect outcomes. ^

Subject Area

Social Work|Sociology, Criminology and Penology|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Public and Social Welfare|Sociology, Social Structure and Development|Urban and Regional Planning

Recommended Citation

Joyce Dowdy Martin, "An ecological study on child neglect outcomes among poor and low -income families in public housing" (January 1, 2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9963614.