Interview: America’s Youngest Outcasts
Yesterday, we were invited to speak with Chris Oaks, host of Good Mornings! on AM 1330 in Findlay about the impact of homelessness on children. Chris had recently come across a study, America’s Youngest Outcasts, from The National Center on Family Homelessness and wanted to talk about how the findings of the study show up in Findlay and Hancock County.
During the interview, we discussed some of the obvious ways homelessness can negatively impact children and also touched on some outcomes that may get overlooked. One example: Given the high level of stress that a homeless child is likely to experience, it’s not surprising that these children become sick four times as often as their more stable peers.
The subtext to a chronically sick child is how much more often a parent will need to take time off work to care for the sick child, thus jeopardizing any employment foothold they may gain in trying to break the homelessness cycle. With children, the pressure to escape homelessness is much higher and unfortunately, the potential barriers also increase.
Where there is family homelessness, there is almost certainly youth homelessness. In Hancock County, there are incidents of unaccompanied youth homelessness but the majority of local homeless youth are those caught in the cycle with their parents. Even in our own Shelter, since it opened in 1990, over half of the residents have been children.
So what can be done? Beyond supporting the services that help families break the cycle of homelessness, there are small but meaningful ways individuals can help homeless families and children. We found this list to have some especially good suggestions.