Graduation Year


Document Type


Degree Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy


Background: Female-headed households with children makeup nearly 30% of the homeless population, and are challenged to become self-sufficient while embodying multiple roles with inadequate supports (Bassuk, 2010; Crncec, 2008; Fisher, 2000; Schultz-Krohn & Tyminski, 2018). While there is growing literature to support the social-cultural and occupational needs of adults in this population, few programs and research efforts have explored the life skill and developmental needs of children (Fleary et al., 2019).

Purpose: The purpose and objectives of this capstone project were to examine the planning, execution, follow-up, and contextual adaptation of the programs provided to children and youth at a transitional living facility for homeless women and children in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The project also aimed to increase the body of evidence supporting the unique analytic skills of occupational therapists to evaluate the aspects and interrelationships of client occupations that affect individuals’ identity, health, well-being, and participation in life (AOTA, 2020)

Theoretical Framework. This capstone embraced the Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) as a theoretical framework because it illuminates the reciprocal influence of human volition, habituation, and performance capacity, with the environment, and how the resulting dynamic motivates occupational engagement and the desire and capacity of the parent and child to participate and adapt (Kilmer et al., 2012; Taylor & Kielhofner, 2017).

Methods. A qualitative case-study methodology allowed for an in-depth exploration of the contextual intertwining of clients, the facility, and the environment. Data collection involved participant observation, individual interviews, and review of facility artifacts and documents following IRB approval.

Results. Results demonstrated the contextual challenges of program planning, execution, and evaluation among community-based settings serving homeless populations, particularly amid a global health crisis. Volunteer readiness, communication, and program evaluation were perceived differently among study participants, highlighting the importance of self-efficacy and communication in motivation and commitment. Diversity issues were an uncomfortable but significant factor in residents’ lives, agency partnerships, and study participation.

Conclusions: The results highlight the complexity in studying programming provided to children and youth within this transient population. Yet, the data undeniably points to the inclusion of occupational therapists as essential team members to create, implement, and evaluate relevant and culturally responsive services.

Faculty Mentor

Shirley P. O'Brien, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Dana M. Howell, Ph.D., OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy


I would like to acknowledge and thank my husband and son for their unfailing support, encouragement, and endurance. They adopted my goal as their own became the best cheerleaders and team players I could have ever imagined.

I would also like to acknowledge “New Hope,” the executive director, study participants, and the mothers and children that allowed me to observe and participate in their journey.

Finally, thank you to the occupational therapy doctorate faculty at Eastern Kentucky University, especially my committee members, Dr. Shirley O’Brien and Dr. Dana Howell.

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)