About the Point-In-Time Count
The Point-in-Time (PIT) count is an annual count of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in the last 10 days in January. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires its Continuum of Care (CoC) grantees to conduct an annual count of sheltered homeless persons. CoCs also must conduct a count of unsheltered homeless persons every other year (odd numbered years). Each count is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally by service providers and trained volunteers. While many CoCs complete their count of unsheltered persons on the night designated for the count, given the additional challenges associated with counting people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, some CoCs conduct their unsheltered count over the seven days following the night of the count. This “post-night” approach may be particularly useful for counting unsheltered families and youth with young children.
Early Childhood and Housing Working Together
Many children in the United States start life without a home: in 2013, over one million children under six were estimated to have experienced homelessness.
Infants, toddlers and preschoolers who experience homelessness are at grave risk of developmental delays due to a variety of factors such as a lack of prenatal and early health care, crowded and unsanitary living conditions, poor nutrition, and the trauma caused by severe poverty and unstable living arrangements.
Early childhood providers who are serving young children and families experiencing homelessness can support the CoC PIT count efforts, thereby ensuring that families with young children are more likely to be included in this important count.
Please see the new 2-page fact sheet entitled Housing and Early Childhood Programs on the January 2017 Point-In-Time Count, available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/pit_count_2017ecefinal.pdf?nocache=1481234077 . This fact sheet, geared towards an early childhood audience, provides information about HUD’s annual Point-it-Time (PIT) count, and suggests strategies for how early childhood programs can help ensure the most comprehensive and effective count of families experiencing homelessness.
ECE involvement in PIT count planning can provide valuable insights into and help with
• selecting child/family-friendly count sites and creating a welcoming environment there,
• selecting child/family-friendly incentives for count participation,
• recruiting volunteers, and
• suggesting other local service providers to assist with the count.
In addition, on October 31, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Education (ED) issued a joint Policy Statement on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing and At Risk of Homelessness. The policy statement provides research and recommendations on ways in which early childhood and housing providers at the local and, in some cases, State levels can intentionally collaborate to provide safe, stable, and nurturing environments for pregnant women and families with young children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. See the Policy Statement on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing and At Risk of Homelessness.
See also the new infographic that shows, in the United States, infancy is the age at which individuals are most likely to enter shelter or transitional housing, followed by ages one to five, and homelessness during pregnancy and in the early years is harmful to children’s development.
Ending family and early childhood homelessness in America will require the concerted efforts of all of us.
For more information on Early Care and Education for Children Experiencing Homelessness, see here..
Read The Family Room Blog Supporting Young Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness.
 Continuums of Care are local or regional planning bodies that coordinate housing and services for homeless individuals, families, and youth. Visit https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/coc/ for more information.
2 While only required by HUD during odd years, many CoCs conduct an unsheltered count every year.
3 CoCs using this approach must ensure that the persons counted are limited to people who were unsheltered on the night chosen for the PIT count and that the CoCs can properly deduplicate their data.
4 Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile. January 2016. Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
5 Perlman, S. (2015). Access to Early Childhood Programs for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness: A Survey Report. http://naehcy.org/sites/default/files/pdf/naehcy-survey-report.pdf
6 Many CoCs provide incentives to homeless people who participate in the PIT count. Incentives may include transit passes, meal gift cards, toiletries, backpacks, blankets, and items of clothing.
Source: The Administration for Children and Families