Students With Diverse Families

Written by Wendy Schwartz of Columbia University, Family Diversity in Urban Schools is a study of urban students living with caregivers other that their biological parents. In it, she presents a comprehensive and illuminating exploration of these households, along with recommendations that will help schools provide support for these families. Her well documented, well organized article characterizes the most common types of nontraditional families, and makes recommendations for schools that provide support for these families. The definition of family that the author prefers is the following:

Any group of individuals that forms a household based on respect, the meeting of basic needs, as well as those of love and affection, and one in which assistance is freely given to maintain social, spiritual, psychological, and physical health

According to Hampton, Rak, and Mumford, anywhere between thirty and sixty percent of all urban students live with caregivers that are not their biological parents.

These children have distinct, additional requirements. I purposefully used the word distinct, because the diverse families illustrated in this document encompass numerous household situations, similar only in that the childrens caregivers are people other than their biological parents.

For example, children of gay or lesbian parents are more likely to treat their home life matter-of-factly in middle childhood, while adolescents may be more critical of their home life. Support for this family requires that the teacher respects the family decision regarding disclosure and avoids asking details about the students home life. In addition, the teacher is advised to acknowledge any prejudice against homosexual people or beliefs about the morality of homosexuality.

In comparison, children of foster homes have problems that are usually more complex. Most often, these children “demonstrate the effects of past neglect and abuse, grief over separation from their biological family, and the trauma of.

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