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Working with Homeless Young Children and Families

by Karin Elliott and Sarah Fujiwara
November/December 2005
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/working-with-homeless-young-children-and-families/5016645/

With the number of young homeless children and families in the United States increasing at a rapid rate, homeless families are the largest and fastest growing part of the homeless population. Approximately 1.35 million children experience homelessness each year in the United States, with more than half under the age of six. The majority of these families are headed by single mothers (The Better Homes Fund, 1999).

Thirty years ago child and family homelessness did not exist to the degree it does today. Two of the most significant reasons for the increase are the lack of affordable housing in our country coupled with poverty. Many families become homeless because they earn low wages and cannot keep up with expenses. Many families also lack a network or support system on which they can rely in a crisis. Families also become homeless as a result of domestic violence, physical and mental health issues, and substance abuse.

Many families who become homeless live doubled-up with friends or relatives before they move into shelters. Families often live in campgrounds, in cars, and in other situations that are unsafe for children. Often they move from one living situation to the next, exposing children to many transitions. ...

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