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Study: 1.6 Million Homeless Children in U.S.

December 19, 2011 by Brett Wilkins in Rich & Poor with 0 Comments

A new study counts more than 1.6 million homeless children living in the United States today.

According to the 124-page National Center on Family Homelessness report, titled America’s Youngest Outcasts: 2010, one in 45 U.S. children is homeless. On any given day, 4,400 children have no place to call home. These latest figures represent a 38% increase in child homelessness during the years 2007- 2010.

America’s Youngest Outcasts: 2010 is an update of a previous National Center report that examined child homelessness from 2006- 2010. In that report, one in every 50 U.S. children was homeless. That figure dropped to 1 in 63 due to recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which caused a spike in homelessness.

This time around, it’s manmade disasters that are causing an increase in the homeless child population.

“The Recession has been a man-made disaster for vulnerable children,” Ellen L. Bassuk, MD, President and Founder of The National Center on Family Homelessness and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told the National Center. “There are more homeless children today
than after the natural disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which caused historic levels of homelessness in 2006,” she added.

The report states that homeless children are more likely to experience hunger and poor physical and emotional health, as well as limited math and reading proficiency. The incessant stress of being homeless severely hampers development and learning ability in these vulnerable children.

Despite the alarming statistics, the report points out that only seven states have extensive plans to deal with the problem of homeless children. Sixteen states have no plans at all.

The worst states for child homelessness are Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. The best states are Nebraska, Minnesota and Vermont.
“In the face of this man-made disaster, there must be no further cuts in federal and state programs that help homeless children and families,” Bassuk told the National Center. “Deeper cuts will only create more homelessness that will cost us more to fix in the long run. We can take specific action now in areas of housing, child care, education, domestic violence, and employment and training to stabilize vulnerable families and prevent child homelessness.”

This study is but the latest to paint a frightening picture of child poverty in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than one out of every five U.S. children is living in poverty, with figures soaring to nearly one in three children for Hispanics and nearly two out of five for blacks.

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