Among the findings reported in America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness:
- 1 in 50 children in America are homeless.
- 1.5 million children are homeless each year.
- Of the 2.3 to 3.5 million Americans who are homeless each year, 34% are families.
These numbers are likely to grow as the economic recession worsens and escalating housing foreclosures increase.
Overall Rank by State
States ranked 1-50 with 1 being best and 50 worst
Of 2.5 to 3.5 million people nationwide who are homeless, 34% are families, according to the Campaign to End Child Homelessness. 1 in 50 children in America are homeless. These numbers are likely to grow. If you think of your typical Georgia classroom, one child in every two classrooms is homeless.
How can we help? First, talk to your child's school. Ask the administration not to require expensive school uniforms and exempt the low-income from having to pay for field trips, etc. If you can afford it, send twice the money and earmark your donation for a low-income child. Volunteer in your child's school. Advocate low-cost activities vs expensive field trips, or try to get your work to finance a trip. Donate clothes to your local clothing closet for low-income people. Donate to food banks; and think about what you'd like in that bag of groceries. Donate a can of meat, or snacks, or something special along with a staple item. Donate something easy to cook. Think nutrition, too. Donate those old books, VCR tapes, DVD's and music CD's to libraries. Low-income folks often depend on the public library for entertainment, if they are lucky enough to have an old VCR or DVD player. These items are widely available at second-hand stores, so if you have one that works, donate it to your fave charity. Does your local school have a donation bin for items? Year-round school helps low-income families meet the high cost of daycare; it's still the same 180-day school year. Suggest year-round school if your school is 9 month, and spread the word. If you can afford it, donate extra items to your child's teacher for students who can't.
Most of all, try to understand that poverty isn't caused by bad morals, drug use, or criminal activity. There are probably just as many drug dealers in a 'nice' neighborhood as in a poor one, but they are just more open with it in low-income neighborhoods. There is not a correlation between drug use and poverty. Crime can happen anyplace. However, poverty can cause more stress, which brings domestic violence, victimization, and harms health.
Health and poverty are interrelated. Talk to your school's administration and your political leaders about loosening attendance requirements; these strict attendance policies are discriminatory to low-income people. Requiring a doctor's excuse for a virus the doctor can't do anything to help is ridiculous! Most low-income parents can't afford to take off work, because the workplace also has strict attendance policies. People without insurance not only can't afford to take off work for economic reasons, they can't afford the bill when they do. OSHA should change the No Leave Without Pay policy, which discriminates against those who haven't got as much health as the average person. School policies that give money to schools based on attendance discriminate against the poor, who often don't have access to health care that people with more income enjoy. Greater access to health care will help, but without forcing workplaces to allow people to go to the doctor when they need it, and having the workplace quit requiring proof that the person was sick when absent, health care will not have the impact on the cost of health care that is desired.
If the low-income and middle-income have healthcare with wellness screenings; if workplaces stop assuming people who are absent more than others are using drugs; and if the schools stop insisting that children get excuses for mild illnesses, we may see the price of health care drop. The cost to society will be less if people are allowed to stay home when they are sick, instead of punishing them for being absent. When all people have preventative care, and are allowed to use it, there will be less expensive treatments for conditions caught early, such as cancer.