Homelessness and its detrimental effects on children

This young girl was one of the 42 children who attended the Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness’s Project Homeless Connect event last year. This event targets the hardest-to-reach homeless and provides them with many necessary services, from meal distribution to housing referrals.

This young girl was one of the 42 children who attended the Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness’s Project Homeless Connect event last year. This event targets the hardest-to-reach homeless and provides them with many necessary services, from meal distribution to housing referrals.

According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, more than 1.6 million children were homeless each year between 2006 and 2010, which equals one in 45 children. Last year, CACH’s annual Point in Time survey found that 127 children were homeless in Dauphin County. Of these children, 79 were male and 48 were female. According to the survey, 23 percent of the homeless surveyed were households that had children (63 households).

Many causes exist for family homelessness. The biggest cause is unemployment, according to CACH’s Homeless Services Reference Manual. The following two biggest causes for homelessness among families with children were lack of affordable housing and poverty.

According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, 40 percent of homeless children were under the age of six. Many of these children experience physical and mental health issues as a result of their homelessness. Homeless children are six times more likely to get sick each year than their non-homeless counterparts, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.  These children are twice as likely to develop learning disabilities when compared to non-homeless children. They also have a higher risk of experiencing violence, as 25 percent have witnessed violence within their families.

Featured in this photo are a homeless mother and her two children who attended CACH’s Project Homeless Connect in 2012.

Featured in this photo are a homeless mother and her two children who attended CACH’s Project Homeless Connect in 2012.

Homelessness really impacts the healthy development of young children. According to an article from the non-profit research center Child Trends, these children are more likely than non-homeless children to develop moderate to severe health, emotional, and behavioral problems, which can range from asthma to depression.

Not only do these children suffer from poor physical and mental health, but they also suffer from hunger and missed educational opportunities.  According to Child Trends, homeless children who lack a stable living environment are twice as likely as non-homeless children to have to repeat a grade, drop out of high school, or be suspended or expelled.

We here at CACH are committed to helping homeless families with children, along with homeless individuals, get the access they need to services that will help them get back on their feet and change their lives for the better. To learn more about CACH and our work, please visit www.cachpa.org.

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