Child development researchers J.J. Cutuli from Rutgers University-Camden and Janette Herbers from Villanova University are working in collaboration with the Homeless Health Initiative to better understand the impact of HHI-affiliated programs on the well-being of children experiencing family homelessness.

Two related projects are currently underway. We recently completed data collection efforts in two shelters, meeting with mothers and children ages 0 to 17 several times over the course of a month. For the first project, we assessed aspects of physical health including height, weight, history of health conditions and utilization of healthcare, as well as history of stressful life experiences. We will use this information to explore whether participation in HHI’s SPARK physical fitness program contributes to children’s health, particularly with respect to BMI.

The second project involves more in-depth assessments of health and behavioral/emotional well-being of children ages 8 to 11, with an emphasis on executive functions, or cognitive self-regulation. We are interested to see whether participation in the Red Kite Rising martial arts program being offered by the Red Kite Project in collaboration with HHI supports child well-being by enhancing physical fitness as well as aspects of behavioral self-control.