Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Andrea Doyle, PhD, LCSW

Second Advisor

Sandra Bloom, MD

Third Advisor

Taryn Lindhorst, PhD, LCSW


Homeless women and female-headed homeless families represent 80% of the transitionally homeless population. Homelessness in rural and suburban regions has been increasing, and the use of homeless programs in rural and suburban areas has grown by 57% since 2007. Homeless women and their children come to shelters in vulnerable states with histories of complex and chronic trauma; they need strategic services delivered in a way that is sensitive and responsive to their experiences. Social-service providers who work with transitionally homeless women in rural and suburban regions have limited resources and growing demand for their services. The curriculum described is designed to be responsive to the nuanced needs of homeless women and to their case managers, who must serve clients with increasingly complex and harsh experiences. The curriculum details (a) how stress response affects adaptive coping and shapes behavior in stressful situations; (b) how managers can optimize resilience, developing a care plan by monitoring their own responses; and (c) how to assess, engage, and intervene using principles of trauma-informed care. The case management sessions focus on key areas of need specific to this population. These include (a) health and human services, (b) education and employment, (c) parenting, (d) interpersonal violence, (e) and emotional regulation. The aim of this curriculum is to ensure that upon contact with a shelter system or any transitional housing, women have meaningful interactions with their case managers that help them feel safe, grow, and connect with the community and the resources they need.