Community Research and Action, Vanderbilt University
Cohort Six Fellow

Academic Mentor
Marybeth Shinn
Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University

Policy Mentor
Jill Khadduri
Principal Associate and Senior Fellow, Abt Associates Inc.

Research Interests
Homelessness, child well-being, child welfare, ecological contexts of development, housing policy

Areas of Expertise

Economic Supports for Families, Program Evaluation, Latent Class Analysis or Cluster Analysis, Latent Growth Curve Modeling, Hierarchical Linear Modeling, Regression Modeling, Survival Analysis or Hazard Models, Structural Equation Models, Homeless Families and Young People, Low-Income Families and Individuals


Scott Brown is a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University in Community Research and Action, an interdisciplinary program combining community psychology, applied human development, and urban sociology, with a concentration in quantitative methods. His research focuses on relationships between housing, homelessness, child well-being, and family preservation, with an emphasis on applications for policy and intervention. He is particularly interested in how policy and natural experiments can be used to deepen our understanding of pathways between housing, developmental contexts, and risk and resilience for vulnerable children. Mr. Brown received his B.S. summa cum laude in economics and human and organizational development in 2009 and his Ed.M. in community development in 2010 from Vanderbilt University. Prior to his doctoral program, he helped prepare Congressional reports on national homelessness trends and researched the influence of housing interventions on well-being as part of the Housing and Communities practice at Abt Associates.


Long-term effects of housing stability on child well-being, family preservation, and child welfare system involvement for children in families that have experienced homelessness

Families who experience homelessness are more likely to experience informal separations from their children and to have contact with the child welfare system. Children in families that experience homelessness also tend to fare worse developmentally compared to children in the broader population, but findings from comparisons to stably housed low-income families are less consistent. How homelessness produces these relationships or whether housing interventions are an effective way to improve child outcomes is not well understood. Data from a large-scale experimental study of housing interventions for homeless families offers a unique opportunity for examining how housing stability affects child well-being, child separations, and child welfare system involvement. The first study examines both (1) impacts of housing interventions on child separations and patterns of family involvement with local child welfare systems and (2) the extent to which changes in housing stability drives these relationships relative to other known risk factors. A second study assesses intervention impacts on children’s resilience across multiple areas of development and the role of housing instability, economic stress, school instability, parental stress, and family processes in these relationships. Findings will inform housing and child welfare policy and potential areas of partnership across systems focused on child well-being.