Guest Blogger: Kristin Hutchins
A foreclosure is a traumatic event in the life of any individual or family. This is especially true for children.
Foreclosures can disrupt children’s lives in several ways:
Family stress and financial hardship
- Changing schools
Family Stress and Financial Hardship
The adverse effects of foreclosure begin before the actual loss of the home. Qualitative research has shown that parents who are homeowners in the midst of a foreclosure become more stressed. In interviews, parents report fighting more often with their kids and with their spouses. Even when this isn’t the case parents say their kids are distressed by the increased tension in the house
In order to pay the mortgage, homeowner families may cut back on other basic expenses, such as food or medical care. More broadly research shows that a family’s financial trouble can negatively affect children’s outcomes, such as academic performance and behavioral development.
If the bank does take ownership of the home, family budgets can be strained by the unexpected moving costs.
All families in homes that receive a foreclosure notice are more likely to move. For the families who owned the homes, the loss of both savings and credit standing associated with foreclosure makes it difficult to afford rental housing of comparable size and quality with their previous home.
Families unable to find new housing can end up living with family or friends, or in the worst case, leading to homelessness. In general, households (particularly low-income households) who also have to make housing choices quickly are more likely to end up in poor-quality housing and neighborhoods with fewer community building and connections.
In addition to the family stress mentioned above, foreclosure can also influence a child’s educational outcomes through increased school instability. Children living in foreclosed homes are more likely to switch schools the following year than their peers. This holds true even in districts with liberal school choice policies. Changing schools, especially in the middle of the school year, has been shown to hinder children’s academic performance. Disruptive moves are linked to children’s academic problems, such as grade retention, failure to complete school, and a lack of interpersonal skill.
Children whose families do not experience foreclosure themselves, but who live in neighborhoods with many foreclosures can also suffer the consequences of this crisis since high rates of student mobility can disrupt classrooms.
If you are in need of answers or foreclosure solutions NeighborWorks Columbus is the place for you. They provide Foreclosure Prevention Workshops to help in this area. You can register here to attend.