Without safe and reliable care for their children, homeless parents cannot search for or sustain employment or access the job training, education, and other services essential to resolving their homelessness. Federal and state subsidized child care, designed to support low-income families’ self-sufficiency, should be a resource for these families. Yet, ICPH’s analysis of each state’s Child Care and Development Fund plan for federal Fiscal Years 2014–15 found that the majority of states do not have policies in place that ease and encourage homeless families’ use of child care subsidies.
Source: Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness
Around the country, Head Start and Early Head Start programs are building partnerships in their communities in order to make their services more accessible for children experiencing homelessness.
ACF just released Building Partnerships to Address Family Homelessness, a resource paper that highlights efforts by local Head Start and Early Head Start programs to connect with public housing associations, emergency shelter providers, local education agencies, and other community service providers. It also provides recommendations and resources to facilitate collaborations in other communities.
Children experiencing homelessness are disproportionally at-risk for a host of negative developmental and educational outcomes. They also face many barriers to accessing early care and learning programs that could provide foundational supports to overcome the negative impacts of homelessness. The partnerships highlighted are vital to help children experiencing homelessness connect with high quality early care and learning opportunities, as well as to help Head Start and Early Head Start families connect with other services. Head Start and Early Head Start program staff, housing providers, and state and local leaders can learn from these practices to develop mutually beneficial partnerships that expand access to services for families experiencing homelessness.
Early Childhood Development’s latest resource paper provides a fresh look at:the effects of homelessness on young children; federal initiatives that expanded access to early care and learning for young children experiencing homelessness and;efforts in Massachusetts and Oregon to implement innovative policies to improve early childhood outcomes for young children experiencing homelessness.
Source: Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Over half of children living in federally funded homeless shelters are five years old or younger1. Many more young children live in other homeless situations, such as in motels or cars; or, living temporarily with others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason. These children live in conditions of poverty that contribute directly to physical, mental, and emotional difficulties (Burt et al., 1999). Consider the following statistics from the National Center on Family Homelessness (1999, p. 2):
Infants who are born into homelessness need special care right after birth at four times the rate of other children.
Homeless babies show significantly slower development than other children do.
Homeless children have very high rates of acute illness.
More than one-fifth of homeless children between three and six years of age have emotional problems serious enough to require professional care.
In sum, the poverty and unsafe living conditions that accompany homelessness subject young homeless children to a steady barrage of stressful circumstances and traumatic events during what are believed to be the most critical years for their emotional and intellectual development (Shore, as cited in National Center for Children in Poverty, 1999).
Source: National Center for Homeless Education at SERVE and the Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services
It wasn’t so long ago that David Hutchinson spent a month sleeping under a bridge while his wife and young daughter spent their nights at a domestic violence shelter.
But this wasn’t a case of domestic violence. The couple simply had no choice. There were just no shelters in Phoenix with room for another homeless family, and their top priority was finding a safe place for their daughter.
The family is one of many in the U.S. that have been trying to raise children in the face of joblessness and homelessness. An annual survey released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows the number of children living in poverty increased to 23 percent in 2011, after the recession.
Living without permanent, long-term housing creates a number of stressors for children and families, but being homeless can be particularly detrimental to the healthy development of young children. The National Center on Family Homelessness reports that more than 1.6 million children – or one in 45 children – were homeless annually in America between 2006 and 2010. It is estimated that 40 percent of homeless children, or roughly 640,000 over that timeframe, were under the age of six. 12 This brief highlights the effects of homelessness on children, with a particular emphasis on young children, and notes several policies and practices that could help mitigate negative outcomes.
America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010 updates a previous report created by The National Center on Family Homelessness titled America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness. Our earlier report, based on 2006 data about the extent of the problem, was itself an update of a landmark study we issued in 1999 that provided the first comprehensive profile of America’s homeless children and families.
America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010 documents the numbers of homeless children in every state, their well-being, the risk for child homelessness, and state level planning and policy activities. Using findings from numerous sources that include well-established national data sets as well as our own research, we rank the states in each of four domains and then develop a composite of these domains to rank the states from 1 (best) to 50 (worst).
America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010 reports the following:
1.6 million American children, or one in 45 children, are homeless in a year.1
This equates to more than 30,000 children each week, and more than 4,400 each day.
Children experiencing homelessness suffer from hunger, poor physical and emotional health, and missed educational opportunities.
A majority of these children have limited educational proficiency in math and reading.
Not surprisingly, the risks for child homelessness—such as extreme poverty and worst case housing needs—have worsened with the economic recession, even though the total housing capacity for families increased by more than 15,000 units in the past four years, primarily due to the federal Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).
Despite this bleak picture, planning and policy activities to support the growth and development of these vulnerable children remain limited. Sixteen states have done no planning related to child homelessness, and only seven states have extensive plans.
Although the majority of homeless children reside in a few states (50% reside in six states; 75% reside in 18 states), thousands and tens of thousands of children in every state go to sleep each night without a home to call their own. The numbers of homeless children in 2010 are likely undercounted since data collection procedures changed in California, reducing California’s reported total by 162,822 children in a single year, from 2009 to 2010. In the three previous data years (2007, 2008, 2009), California accounted for more than 25% of the nation’s homeless children.
Good morning Representative Biggert, Representative Gutierrez, members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today on this very important subject. My name is Grace Whitney. I am a developmental psychologist and have worked in various capacities with very young children and their families for my entire career. For the past 15 years I have served as the director of the Head Start Collaboration Office in the State of Connecticut.
The Head Start Act provides for a network of State Collaboration Offices (one in each state and one each for American Indians and Alaskan Natives and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start) that connect Head Start with state systems that offer many of the services Head Start families need. State Collaboration Offices also share the resources and lessons learned in Head Start with state systems. The Head Start Act articulates the role of the State Collaboration Offices to develop partnerships with states in specific priority areas, one of which is children experiencing homelessness. In that vein, State Collaboration Offices work with service agencies providing homeless and housing services, including those funded by HUD. I began focusing on this priority area about ten years ago, when State Collaboration Offices were required to participate as Interagency Homeless Council members. I have been involved ever since.
Yesterday, I was pleased to take on the role of Chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. I look forward to building on the hard work of this year’s Chair, Secretary Solis, whose accomplishments include: developing a plan to increase access to mainstream benefits and increasing engagement with governors and mayors to align local plans to Opening Doors Across America-the nation’s first-ever comprehensive strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Head Start State Collaboration Directors facilitate collaboration among Head Start agencies and state and local entities as charged by the Office of Head Start in the Regional Office. Find out more about the priority areas.
Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center