When you see homeless people on the street, it’s not often you see children. It’s usually one or two people on the crossroad or corner asking for money or food, but there are more homeless kids than people realize.
Homeless children are just like any other kids, except they don’t have their own home. They worry about things that they shouldn’t have to worry about at such a young age such as, having a stable home, will they have a place to sleep, worry about their parents, and when their next meal will be.
Many children that are homeless stay at shelters, with family members that aren’t their parents, or even at friend’s homes. The unstable environment can make it difficult for them to keep up with homework, if they attend school.
Homeless children experience stress that a child should never have to experience. They shouldn’t have to worry if they are safe sleeping in a shelter by strangers or if they’ll be able to eat that day, but they do. Their unstable environment causes issues that have a great impact on their lives.
One of those issues is that they fall sick more often. As you can imagine, they might not have the most nutritious meals, they eat what becomes available to them. In fact, according to the Health Care for the Homeless Clinicians’ Network, homeless children get sick four times as often as children in middle class families.
Another issue that these children face is their education. Federal law requires that all children, regardless of their housing situation, have a right to free and appropriate education, however, many children are denied this right due to a number of reasons. These reasons include:
- Some schools won’t let a student register without school and medical records.
- Some schools won’t enroll you without a home address.
- Students enrolled may not have transportation from a shelter to school, even though it’s required by school districts per federal law.
- The daily struggle of finding a place to sleep and eat usually comes first, so school tends to be pushed aside.
Even when these four reasons aren’t in play and a homeless child can maintain regular attendance they are usually behind and have a more difficult time than others that are in a better living situation.
Another issue faced is that it’s hard to tally how many children there are that are actually homeless, which includes children that are “couch surfing” at someone else’s home. Because of this, funding from the government for resources, provided for homeless children can vary because the range can be dramatically different from city to city.
What Can Be Done?
Homelessness is already devastating to all aspects of child development. Research shows us that it’s more costly for a child and family to be homeless. It would be beneficial for all parties if there was stable housing for them to help them get them on their feet. A child wouldn’t have to be moved around from shelter to shelter or from school to school. It would help prevent trauma, sickness, and stress. The impact stress has on a person is more severe than people think, imagine it happening to a 4 or 5 year old child because they are hungry and cold. A lot of times children become homeless because bills pile up, divorce, medical issues, and most commonly, abuse in the household.
What impact will a child have in society when they grow up if they can barely get through middle school or high school because of their living situation?
Humanity for the Homeless partnered with Becker Logistics to donate a check every quarter to Baker Memorial United Methodist Church to help with the homeless community in their area. We hope to be able to help many more communities in the upcoming future and to know that our impact is changing a child’s life as well is life changing for us already.