Families without Borders: Understanding Child Mobility across Households

Anna C. Rhodes, Johns Hopkins University
Stefanie DeLuca, Johns Hopkins University

Studies suggest that family instability and residential mobility negatively affect youth educational outcomes, social development and emotional well-being. However, the movement of children between households may affect children differently depending on why these changes occur. This movement may be beneficial if these transitions are driven by unsafe neighborhood environments, poor school quality, or risky home environments and the move provides appreciable gains in the quality of their environments. More complex family structures included extended kin, which are frequent sources of support in low income African-American communities, however, are not modeled in the family instability literature. Using in-depth ethnographic interviews conducted with low income African-American families this paper explores the conditions that drive family fluidity and the potential implications of these transitions, finding that child fluidity between households is often a means to provide safer and more stable environments in order to confer advantages to children.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 5