Sample Sociology Paper on Mother and Child Programs: Covenant House


Around 2 per cent of the global population, which is almost 150 million people are homeless. In the United States, there have always been homeless people. Due to the fluctuation of both demographic and economic forces, the composition and size of the homeless population have also undergone fluctuation even though comparatively permanent skid rows where the homeless forgather have long been a feature of numerous cities. In the past decade, the number of homeless people has escalated dramatically. Apart from that, the composition of homeless people has also succumbed to change. About 18 percent of young men and 44 percent of young women aged between 18 to 25 years facing homelessness report being pregnant or a parent (Oritz-Ospina, 2017). Every year, hundreds of thousands of children live with a young mother and infrequently with a homeless young dad. It is not uncommon for young individuals who are homeless to be active sexually, including those that are either trafficked for sex or those that practice sex for survival and are at higher risk for pregnancy. Knowing that they are homeless, thus lacking a stable and safe place to raise and take care of their children compounds their already traumatic test of everyday survival. Covenant house’s mother and child programs offer emergency shelter for young children and mothers. Also, it offers counselling as well as other social services. This paper evaluates homelessness among mothers and children as well as the challenges and barriers faced by the Covenant house and any potential intervention programs.

Description of Targeted Groups; Impact of the health issue for this group

Mothers and children form the largest, most undeserved and complicated group experiencing homelessness not only in the United States but also around the world. Risk factors to homelessness among this particular group are atypically an amalgamation of structural and individual factors. Structural factors include lack of appropriate and affordable housing options as well as public policy that is responsible for creating barriers for those on the margins. On the other hand, mental health issues, family violence, lack of social supports, under or unemployment and substance use are some of the individual factors that lead these people into homelessness. Divorce or separations and family violence are risk factors that, in most cases, affect women. As much as family or individual’s experience is dissimilar, the vulnerability level and the complexity of support needs is often the result of the combination as well as cumulative impacts of these particular factors. Homelessness has adverse impacts on this target group with some of the impacts being worrying about their safety and going for days without meals with mothers often letting their health fall by the wayside just to help their children. Other impacts are depression and escalated risk for anxiety, among others.

Challenges and barriers in tackling this issue

On any given night in the country mentioned above, 500,000 people are homeless with some of them sleeping on the streets while some sleep in shelters. About 15 percent of the homeless people are chronically homeless meaning that they have not had any permanent residence in years. On almost every level, the government of the United States has attempted to tackle the homelessness problem. However, comprehensive solutions have proven to be elusive, in spite of billions of dollars that have been spent over time. A series of goals have been set up by the federal government aimed at ending homelessness for veterans by 2015 and chronic homelessness by the year 2017 and by the year 2020, ending homelessness for families with youth and children( Oritz-Ospina, 2017). Nevertheless, attaining these benchmarks seems to be much further off.

One of the main challenges that affect the above-mentioned institution is the unavailability of enough housing due to the ever-increasing number of homeless mothers and children. According to researchers, housing issues will likely challenge the covenant house program, thanks to the economy and recent trends associated with homelessness. Apart from that, the costs of both behavioural health and health-care have escalated because of overcrowding in these particular institutions. Thus, to overcome this challenge, the number of institutions across the country will have to be increased.

Finance forms another challenge that affects the covenant house. The institution is dependent on support from individuals and sponsors, and this money is never enough to pay for the employees who help the homeless in the institution. Apart from that, because of financial issues, the length of support that can be offered by the program is reduced because the program offers the victims food, shelter as well as education. Moreover, the lack of enough funds means that the institution can only take it what it can manage to handle. By doing this, mothers and children who are homeless are left out of the program and end up suffering in the streets.

Literature review

Homelessness was able to attract a great deal of attention from the public, from advocates, from the media and politicians in the 1980s (Glynn & Fox 2019). The visibly growing problem was responded to by every government level, and virtually, every sector of the society intervened. However, since then, interest in this particular issue appears to have waned considerably. The problem continues to grow, particularly in urban areas with temporary homelessness having escalated from a decade ago and is threatening families and individuals further up the income distribution. The number of mothers and children who are homeless have also seen a considerable increase (Bigelsen & Vuotto, 2017). Mothers and children who are homeless get predisposed to acute health problems, thanks to the unsanitary living conditions in various towns, lack of proper medical care and the extreme weather conditions.

Being homeless also makes children have malnutrition since they hardly get enough to put into their stomachs. Nevertheless, programs such as the mother and child program have been put up to help helpless mothers and children. According to Glynn & Fox (2019). The problem, however, is that the number of homeless mothers and children are so high such that it is not possible to accommodate all of them in these particular resources due to lack of enough resources. As much as programs such as mother and child are faced by various challenges, they have helped young mothers and children in a great way. At covenant house, the mothers are taught on childbearing aspects, parenting skills as well as on how they can courageously embrace single motherhood. Policies that ensure that young mothers gain livable wages should be put in place so that they can be independent.

Potential Intervention  

Since covenant house offers the program only for a limited amount of time to the homeless mothers and children, there should be potential interventions aimed at helping this particular group once they are out of the covenant house. One potential intervention is building career pathways for them. The program can do this by connecting them to career pathways that are not only responsive but also accessible. They also need to coordinate employment strategies with housing and other interventions so that these mothers can relapse and live a better life after completion of their terms in the program. Furthermore, they can also improve system-wide integration and coordination of employment programs with survivor assistance, homeless assistance programs as well as permanent supportive housing and housing programs.

Another intervention would involve strengthening crisis response systems. An effective crisis response entails reorienting and coordinating services and programs to a housing-first approach and rapidly puts an emphasis on connecting mothers and children to permanent housing. They do this while at the same time mitigating the traumatic effects that are brought about by homelessness (Glynn & Fox (2019). Apart from that, additional support such supplemental services should be offered by the program to the targeted group. Such a service would aid the said group in building up their self-worth, improving their social skills as well as enhancing their achievements. Other organizations should work together with covenant house in ensuring that young mothers are able to earn themselves jobs and even conduct a follow up on how they are fairing on even after leaving the program.

Advocating for change

One way in which advocacy can prove to be extremely effective at making change is by encouraging policymakers to take action. On innumerable occasions, legislators have initially stated that they could not support a program nor take a specific step until advocates stepped in and worked to change their minds. Over the eons, advocates have made a massive impact on federal policy to avert as well as bring an end to homelessness. Advocacy helps in gaining novel and increased resources for ending as well as preventing homelessness. What acts as a threat to the progress that has been made towards ending homelessness is the rising rents and housing shortage in communities across the country. Advocates must therefore call on the Congress to uphold a commitment to bringing an end to homelessness.

Targeting housing resources and subsidies using the obtainable data about families, prioritizing the processing of housing applications for homeless mothers and children and standardizing the procedures for varied subsidy programs will ensure that the above-mentioned target groups and families get assistance as quickly and efficiently as probable. Apart from that, various states and the federal administration should invest in aftercare services that aid families gain access to the much needed social support. Policies that would also help in exploring the development of an affordable housing model that entails on-site services for mothers and children and other homeless individuals in need but do not qualify for supportive housing should be put in place as it will help these people to remain stably housed after leaving programs such as mother and child program.

On policy recommendations, one of them would be enhancing civic engagement and leadership in fighting homelessness across this particular nation. This will encompass utilizing the administration employing poverty reductions stratagems in coming up with an extensive framework for improving the living conditions of persons in the country. Additionally, this should also be able to upsurge the access to affordable and stable housing (Glynn & Fox 2019). Implementation of the policy mentioned above will foresee the reduction of people who live in the streets, particularly those one earning but cannot afford to house because of its high costs. The government should also allocate enough capital to covenant house. By doing so, the house will be able to accommodate a larger number of homeless people as compared to the amount that it is currently taking in. Moreover, with the allocated finances, covenant house will be able to acquire more housing as well as upgrade the existing resources such as food deficiencies, training programs as well as medications.


In conclusion, homelessness is a global challenge, with about 2 percent of the total global population being homeless. Every year, hundreds of thousands of children live with a young mother and infrequently with a homeless young dad. Covenant house’s mother and child programs offer emergency shelter for young children and mothers. The targeted group for the program is the mother and children who are facing homelessness. This particular group faces homelessness because of various reasons with some of them being domestic violence, divorce or separation, among others. One of the main challenges that affect the institution mentioned above is the unavailability of enough housing due to the ever-increasing number of homeless mothers and children. Another challenge is the lack of enough finances to help them run their day-to-day activities at the covenant house. One of the interventions would include strengthening crisis response systems. Moreover, in terms of advocating for change, it would be appropriate to advocate to civic engagement and leadership.




Bigelsen, J., & Vuotto, S. (2017). Homelessness, survival sex and human trafficking: As experienced by the youth of Covenant House New York. 2013. Available at)(Accessed October 29, 2017) https://nche. ed. gov/downloads/cov-hs-trafficking. pdf.

Glynn, C., & Fox, E. B. (2019). Dynamics of homelessness in urban America. The Annals of Applied Statistics13(1), 573-605.

Ortiz-Ospina, E., & Roser, M. (2017). Homelessness. Our World in Data.