After School Programs as Protective Resources for Homeless Children: An Exploratory Study
Seryak, Claire M.
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This qualitative study examined the protective resources of after school programs for children experiencing homelessness and living in interim housing programs and single room occupancy housing. The findings from this study represent the perspectives of interim housing (IH) and after school program (ASP) directors, parents and their children participating in the after school programs provided by these programs. IH and ASP Directors, parents and their children from three participating organizations participated in a one-time, face-to-face, qualitative interview designed to explore their perceptions of risks associated with homelessness and protective resources associated with participation in an after school program specifically designed for children residing in interim housing programs and single room occupancy (SRO) housing. Findings from this study suggest that after school programs for children experiencing homelessness have the potential to provide these children with a number of protective resources that may buffer the risks associated with the experience of homelessness. These programs provide safety and a sense of stability for children experiencing a great degree of instability. They also provide resources such as help with homework, opportunities to connect with caring adults, and opportunities to participate in and experience a variety of extra-curricular activities for which they may not otherwise have the opportunity. Finally, these programs function as a place where these children, in particular, can have a break from the stress that comes with being homeless. The knowledge gained from this study has implications for policy, practice and research in the areas of housing and homelessness and after school programs.