Homeless Youth – A Growing Crisis
The problem of homeless youth had been a steadily growing problem in the U.S., but the economic upheaval brought on by the pandemic threatens to make it much worse. According to the most recent statistics available, there are over 1.5 million students (ages 6 to 18) have experienced homelessness. They and their families have coped by:
- Doubling up with other families during the school year (75 percent)
- Staying in shelters (15 percent)
- Residing hotels/motels (7 percent)
- Living without shelter (4 percent)
How School Closures Impact Homeless Youth
As many schools move to online only teaching, these children are in danger of losing a critical source of physical and emotional support. Beyond providing students with basic necessities like food and, in some cases, health care, schools typically provide a safe space for homeless children during the day. The loss of that safety net is one of the most concerning impacts from widespread school closures.
Many homeless youth also suffer from executive function deficits due to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). School liaisons have handled much of the load for helping homeless students get access to services so they can stay in school. But school closures and budgetary cuts due to the pandemic are putting that in jeopardy as well.
The outlook for these kids, if they are not helped, is grim. They are far more likely to be held back a grade, drop out of school, and have emotional disturbances.
Homeless Youth is a Problem for All of Us
While government organizations at every level will have a key role to play in mitigating the problems faced by homeless youth, there are things that we can all do to provide some degree of meaningful support. The Coffee Oasis, a homeless youth advocacy organization has some great suggestions. The first place to start is becoming aware of the homeless youth within our own communities