225953 Displaced child and parental adjustment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

Lori Peek, PhD , Department of Sociology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
More than 4,500 families relocated to Colorado in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Based on analyses of data gathered through in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of 30 evacuee parents, 55 evacuee children, and 16 local resource providers, this research offers a theoretical model of displaced family adjustment. The model illustrates that after a brief period of family unity, parents and their children began to move in divergent directions in terms of their adjustment to life in Colorado. In particular, parents initially prioritized stability and security above all other considerations. Children, at the outset, expressed feelings of anger, sadness, and depression. Over time, as the children began to make friends and adapt to their new schools and neighborhoods, they felt more satisfied and at home. As the children settled in, however, the parents became increasingly overwhelmed. As the months passed, mothers and fathers struggled to find secure employment, child care, health care, and affordable housing as they grappled with feelings of cultural loss and isolation. Ultimately, the parents were forced to make the decision regarding whether their families would stay in Colorado or return to the Gulf Coast. These decisions were shaped in large part by the desires of their children, as well as the parents' perceptions regarding what would be best for their children. Understanding dynamic patterns of household adjustment over time may present opportunities for interventions that aim to increase familial resilience, and decrease more adverse trajectories, after post-disaster displacement.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the factors that aid and hinder adjustment among displaced children and adults in the aftermath of disaster. 2. Formulate a theoretical model of displaced family adjustment.

Keywords: Disasters, Children and Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I conducted the research and analysis for this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.