How many children and families are experiencing homelessness?
There are 1.5 million children who are homeless in the United States and 40% of these children are under the age of five. (Feed The Children's Homeless Education and Literacy Program, 2009)
Every year, hundreds of thousands of American families become homeless. (The National Center on Family Homelessness, 2009)
One in 50 children experience homelessness in America each year. (The National Center on Family Homelessness, 2009)
What causes homelessness?
On average, cities reported a 12 percent increase in homelessness from 2007 to 2008, with 16 cities citing an increase in the number of homeless families. The primary cause of homelessness for families is lack of affordable housing, poverty, and unemployment. (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 12/12/08 Press Release)
Family homelessness is caused by the combined effects of lack of affordable housing, extreme poverty, decreasing government supports, changing demographics of the family, the challenges of raising children alone, domestic violence, and fractured social supports. (The National Center on Family Homelessness, 2009).
Where are families in homeless situations living?
States reported that in 2003–04, 50.33 percent of their homeless children and youth lived doubled up with relatives and friends, compared with 35 percent estimated in the 2000 report to Congress. The large percentage of homeless children and youth living doubled up compared with the percentage of those living in shelters (25.33 percent) may be attributable in part to the overall increase in the number of homeless families and in part to the lack of availability of shelters. (Report to the President and Congress on the Implementation of the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Department of Education, 2006)
Over 40 percent of children living in homeless shelters are under the age of five. (Report to the President and Congress on the Implementation of the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Department of Education, 2006)
False - Most homeless families with children do not live in shelters. In fact, 68 percent of homeless children identified by schools were in motels or living temporarily with others. To learn more about this, try Lesson 1: Definition of Homelessness.
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is a law that addresses the needs of homeless children and youth only in grades K-12.
False - The McKinney-Vento Act addresses the needs of homeless children and youth in grades K-12 but it also contains provisions on pre-school-aged children. To learn more about the McKinney-Vento Act, try Lesson 1: Definition of Homelessness.
Local liaisons for homeless education (homeless liaisons) work in school districts to ensure that children experiencing homelessness continue to attend school. They also link these children and their families with programs and services that they may need.
TRUE - A child is considered homeless for any length of time as long as his or her circumstances are included under the definition of homelessness in the McKinney-Vento Act. To learn more, try Lesson 1: Definition of Homelessness.
A family that lives with others because they have lost their housing would never be considered homeless according to the definition in the McKinney-Vento Act.
False - Families who are staying temporarily with others due to loss of housing are considered homeless under the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act. To learn more about the definition of homelessness in the McKinney-Vento Act, try Lesson 1: Definition of Homelessness.
Verification of a homeless living situation suffices for determining Head Start eligibility (i.e., no documentation of income is required).
TRUE - The Head Start Act requires regulations to be issued stating that Head Start programs must identify and give priority consideration based on selection criteria to homeless children for enrollment. To learn more about enrollment for children who are experiencing homelessness, try Lesson 4: Enrollment.
Head Start agencies must conduct outreach activities to identify young homeless children.
TRUE - In serving those experiencing homelessness, Head Start agencies must coordinate with McKinney-Vento local school district liaisons. To learn more, try Lesson 6: Community Collaborations.
Moving from one school or educational program to another when a family is homeless or highly mobile has a negative impact on school-aged children, but preschool-aged children are generally able to adjust quickly.
False - Young children, both school-aged and preschool-aged, suffer from the ill effects of mobility that accompanies homelessness. To learn more about the impact of homelessness on young children, try Lesson 1: Definition of Homelessness.