Right here in the United States, there are over well over 1.5 million children that are homeless. Many studies suggest there are up to 2.8 million children who are homeless. Even more stunning is the fact that 42% of those kids are actually under the age of 6 years old. 32% of them are forced to participate in sexual activity against their will. According to the U.S. Justice Department over 50% of homeless children/youth will be forced into prostitution. A third of them will become so hopeless they will attempt suicide. 13 homeless children will die every day.
There are over 1 million homeless students in schools nationwide. Less than 25% of them will actually graduate High School.
Children make up 27% — the fastest growing segment — of the U.S. homeless population, and there’s no end in sight; the recession has forced many families out of their homes, making these youth just another group on the long list of victims, moving from couch to couch, shelter to shelter.
The statistics on youth homelessness are staggering. In 2 years the number of homeless youth has increased by 100%. Sadly these children have been overlooked for far too long. We must reach reach out with compassion and help these children who desperately need our help.
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We are writing to you to urge your support for adequate funding of programs serving homeless children and families. Each year, hundreds of thousands of American families become homeless, including over 1.5 million children. While homelessness takes its toll on adults, its impact on children is particularly traumatizing. Federal investments in the early education, health, and nutrition of homeless children are critical to ensuring they have a better start in life than their circumstances dictate.
Research shows that homeless children experience a severe lag in development in comparison to their housed peers. This disparity results from the accumulated impact of profound environmental stressors of homelessness, including: living in crowded conditions, hunger, and exposure to domestic violence and substance abuse. Federal education, child care, health, nutrition and domestic violence prevention programs have proven invaluable in ameliorating the impact of these conditions.
Early education and care promotes the individual and social development of a homeless child while providing an essential work support to homeless families. Without quality child care for their children, homeless parents are unable to look for housing, search for employment, complete GED or college coursework, or maintain jobs. We cannot expect homeless families to succeed in Rapid Re‐Housing Programs, and be able to keep jobs that pay the cost of market rent when subsidies expire, if their children do not have access to child care.
As Congress completes the FY 2011 appropriations process and begins to consider FY 2012 funding, we urge you to protect the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start and Early Head Start from any cuts in funding. FY 2010 levels are already too low to address the needs of low‐income and homeless children. Currently, only 1 in 7 eligible children benefits from CCDBG; Head Start and Early Head Start only serve 5% of homeless children, all of whom are categorically eligible for the program.
We also encourage you to support funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs), which provide critical medical care to underserved homeless children and families. In 2009, CHCs served nearly 19 million individual patients, with one‐third being children and youth under the age of 19, and many of them homeless. Cuts to FY 2010 levels of CHC funding will eliminate health care access for over half a million children at our nation’s health centers.
Additionally, we ask that you support funding for child nutrition programs including the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs, Child and Adult Care Food Program (which provides nutritious meals and snacks for children in homeless shelters, childcare, afterschool and summer programs), as well as WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children). These programs are especially important for homeless children as studies show homeless children are hungry at twice the rate of other children and have higher rates of obesity due to nutritional deficiencies. Domestic violence is consistently identified as a primary cause of homelessness. A staggering
92% of homeless women report having experienced severe physical and/or sexual assault at
some point in their lives, and upwards of 50% of all homeless women report that domestic
violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness.
We ask you to support funding for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs. These programs create federal protections and support lifesaving programs for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. They not only save lives but they also save money. Studies show that domestic violence has declined significantly since VAWA was first enacted in 1994, and VAWA alone is estimated to have saved taxpayers at least $14.8 billion in net averted social costs in its first six years.
We understand that you are concerned about the budget. Unfortunately, homelessness is not a problem that proves less costly to taxpayers when access to services is reduced. Persistent homelessness leads to poor health, employment, and education outcomes that can drive up societal and economic costs. Investing in early education, child care, health, nutrition and domestic violence prevention programs ensures that homeless children are able to take their best step forward even when their families are on precarious footing. Please make the necessary investments in these programs, and together we can work to end the cycle of homelessness.
Horizons for Homeless Children
The National Center on Family Homelessness
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children & Youth
American Bar Association
American Psychological Association
Catholic Charities USA
Center for American Progress
Center for Social Innovation
Corporation for Supportive Housing
Give Us Your Poor
Health Care for the Homeless
National AIDS Housing Coalition
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Center for Housing and Child Welfare
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
National Housing Law Project
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National Network to End Domestic Violence
National Network for Youth
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Western Regional Advocacy Project