In the United States, 1.5 million children are homeless. 1.5 million children are without adequate shelter, nourishment, healthcare, or education. When a child is homeless, it is not just a house that they are without. They are more likely than other children to experience hunger, constant illness, mental disorders, and developmental delays.1 Being homeless negatively affects a child’s overall welfare and ability to thrive within their community throughout their childhood and into their adulthood. It impedes their ability to live a healthy life and gain an adequate education, as children who are homeless face far more obstacles, such as increased health risks and lack of educational opportunities, than children who aren’t homeless. They are less likely to be able to contribute to society, as less than a quarter of homeless children graduate or receive well-paying jobs, making them trapped in a life of poverty. Child homelessness is the perfect portrait of poverty. Children are deprived of their basic needs – shelter, food, safety, and other resources – which are required for any individual to rise out a lifetime of poverty. In the United States, it is every individual’s human right to have their basic needs fulfilled; the government and the U.S. community need to ensure that those rights are being applied to all people in order to create a more flourishing and prosperous society.
In an effort to solve the problem of child homelessness, the U.S. government has implemented legislature to provide funding and support for services to the homeless, including provisions under the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. However, it is not enough. To help homeless children overcome the obstacles of homelessness, such as poor healthcare and education, and put an end to child homelessness the United States government must actively ensure that the problem of child homelessness is being answered. By implementing and following through with the provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which increase the services and funding as included in the McKinney-Vento Act, the U.S. will be making greater strides towards ending homelessness all together. The legislature must also pass the HEARTH Act of 2009 as the reauthorization of the amendment of the McKinney-Vento Act and consider the Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2009 and other legislation, which would expand the resources allotted to communities in order to end child homelessness and allow local and community organizations to provide more services and better help those in need. Preventing and ending child homelessness must be a priority for both the U.S. government and the U.S. community.
The Affects of Child Homelessness on Health, Hunger, Disorders, Development, and Education
“Homelessness itself can make children sick.”2
Being homeless has an extremely adverse and detrimental effect on a child’s health and well-being. Children who are homeless are more susceptible to...