Responding to the Educational and Psychological Needs of Children and Families in Durham's Transitional Housing (2015-2016)

Less than three miles from Duke’s East Campus, a local nonprofit is responding to the problem of homeless youth in Durham. Working collaboratively with community partner Families Moving Forward, this Bass Connections project team studied the impacts of housing insecurity on the educational and psychological experiences of children, youth and their families.

The team focused on the implications of trauma identification for children and families in transitional housing and on quality practices to support children’s educational needs at Families Moving Forward. The organization offers a temporary home to families with children and helps to create a path to stability.

Team members researched tools and practices for identifying trauma in children and families and sought to strengthen the after-school Study Buddies tutoring program. Each student began with a research question and volunteered with the Study Buddies program. Research areas included the creation of a guide for parents on how to support their children’s learning, scales to assess for learning disorders, the state of education for children in transitional housing, models of successful after-school programs, ways to bridge the response between trauma/mental health and resources at school, trauma and self-concept, trauma and the parent-child relationship, and the effects of environments and recreational activities on the stress levels of children at Families Moving Forward. 

Deliverables included literature reviews and annotated bibliographies, new tutor evaluation forms, new Study Buddies curricula for grades K through 8, leisure activity programming, a positive parenting pamphlet, a summer reading program and exit resources for families. Team members shared findings at the end of the spring semester:

  • To best deliver services, schools need to create trauma-informed cultures while empowering students and parents to understand their rights and resources.
  • Self-concept is a protective factor to trauma that improves overall well-being. Interventions such as after-school and summer literacy programs are shown to increase school-aged children’s self-concept.
  • One of the most effective ways to improve family functioning, mental health and child development in transitional homes is to teach and encourage positive parenting behaviors.
  • Unstructured leisure time for children stagnates a child’s growth, while structured leisure activity—be it educational or not—rapidly increases a child’s development.
  • Major approaches to engage more students in afterschool programs include ongoing individual attention, sufficient resources, support for students’ study and social skills and expanding parental involvements.
  • The key to make mothers more involved with their children’s education is to increase their self-efficacy.
  • Durham’s history of redlining and predatory housing practices are directly related to educational inequities today in Durham Public Schools.


Fall 2015 – Spring 2016

Team Outputs

Responding to the Educational and Psychological Needs of Children and Families in Durham’s Transitional Housing (poster by Nourhan Elsayed, Kathryn Henschel, Margaret Booz, Cam-Ha Nguyen, Julia Kaufman, Katherine Berko, Shadman Uddin, Taylor Panzer)

Developing a Summer Literacy Program for Children in Durham's Transitional Housing (poster by Cam-Ha Nguyen, Kathryn Henschel, Margaret Booz)

EHDx Talks (presentation by Maggie Booz and Shadman Uddin at the Nasher Museum of Art, April 13, 2016)

Edge Lightning Talks: Research + Creativity (presentation by Nourhan Elsayed and Taylor Panzer at The Edge, April 11, 2016)


Maggie Booz

Noura Elsayed

Julia Kaufman

Taylor Panzer as a student and an alumna

Cam-Ha Nguyen

Kathryn Henschel

Shadman Uddin

This Team in the News

Duke Seniors Share What Was Most Meaningful about Their Bass Connections Experiences

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. 

Team Leaders

  • Amy Anderson, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education
  • Christina Grimes, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Barbara Jentleson, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Sanjidah Ahmed, Program II (AB)
  • Katherine Berko, Psychology (AB)
  • Margaret (Maggie) Booz, English (AB), Psychology (AB2)
  • Nourhan (Noura) Elsayed, Psychology (AB)
  • Kathryn Henschel, Psychology (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Julia Kaufman, Int Comparative Studies (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Cam-Ha Nguyen, Public Policy Studies (AB), Asian & Mid East Studies (AB2)
  • Taylor Panzer, Psychology (AB)
  • Shadman Uddin, Public Policy Studies (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • John Fairbank, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Neil Hoefs, Office of Durham & Regional Affairs
  • David Rabiner, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Ryan Fehrman, Genesis Home/Families Moving Forward
  • Ann Tropiano, Genesis Home/Families Moving Forward