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Residential Mobility and its Effect on Family Literacy Programs

An article about the Goodling Institute's Research Brief on poverty and residential mobility

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(February 2008)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Residential mobility is just one of a number of factors that undermine persistence in family literacy programs. Researchers at the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at Penn State examined residential mobility and its interaction with other poverty-related problems such as lack of childcare, intermittent employment, limited access to social services, and health problems.

schafft.jpgIn Goodling's newly released Research Brief, titled Poverty, Residential Mobility and Persistence across Urban and Rural Family Literacy Programs in Pennsylvania, researchers Kai Schafft, Esther Prins, and Marcela Movit describe their study of how poverty and residential mobility influence low-income adults’ persistence in family literacy programs in Pennsylvania.

movit_sml.jpgTwelve out of 20 program directors interviewed in the study reported that learners typically moved at least once a year. In five of these high-mobility programs, moving was reported to significantly hinder persistence. Geographic location and the availability of inexpensive and subsidized housing increased mobility. The 17 learners interviewed had moved 78 times in the previous five years, for an average of once per year. One-half of the moves were within 15 miles, yet even short-distance moves often delayed progress and disrupted program participation.

Although residential mobility did not hinder persistence in all programs, it is part of a constellation of poverty-related problems (e.g., poor health, lack of child care and transportation) that pose challenges for learners to attend classes regularly and meet their educational goals.

The full study is available online (PDF, 72KB).