Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Yale University School of Nursing

First Advisor

Holly Powell Kennedy


In general, homeless women face many challenges including intimate partner violence, abuse history, mental illness, chemical dependence, alcohol abuse, smoking, medical co-morbidities, lack of permanent address, or any combination of the aforementioned (Vijayaraghavan, et al., 2012). Adding pregnancy and a newborn into shelter living further heightens the vulnerability for this population. Women who reside in homeless shelters are likely to have minimal access to breastfeeding support services and thus low rates of sustained breastfeeding. The purpose of this DNP capstone project is to examine current breastfeeding support within homeless shelters in Brooklyn, New York by conducting assessments of services through surveys of shelter staff, community workers and residents who are breastfeeding. A program will be developed to support breastfeeding and piloted at one volunteer shelter. A needs assessment about breastfeeding support will be conducted by individual and/or small group meetings with five shelter directors (in Brooklyn, New York), shelter residents, and health workers who have attended shelter residents. Questionnaires will provide much needed demographic information about the shelter residents and identify service gaps. All participants will have the opportunity to contribute to the needs assessment. The program will take place at a Tier II family shelter that provides housing support as well as social support services to families and their children, such as social support services including child care, entitlements and life skills. Ultimately, the data from the questionnaires will be analyzed for gaps in breastfeeding support services. It will include descriptive statistics and categorization of their descriptions of the supportive and challenges. Using the information categorized in the survey results, a pilot program will be developed to support breastfeeding in partnership with shelter directors and residents at one volunteer shelter. Findings will be disseminated locally among Brooklyn shelters, and a plan will be developed to expand the program to other shelters.


Vijayaraghavan, M., Tochterman, A., Hsu, E., Johnson, K., Marcus, S, & Caton, C.L.M. (2012). Health, Access to Health Care, and Health Care Use Among Women with a History of Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Community Health, 37, 1032-39.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access