The Unknown Struggles of Homeless Children
Tammy R. Mathews
This research assessed the struggles of homeless children. The study compared the educational struggles of a random sampling of children living in stable environments to children who are considered “homeless.” Homeless refers to any child or youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The study revealed the number of homeless children is steadily increasing. However, despite the instability of a home life, a positive school environment for children and youth impacts their success as adults. It is recommended to promote community awareness regarding child homelessness and for schools to take on more responsibility to ensure that homeless children are receiving their basic needs. Empowering communities and local schools to look at the positive impact that they could have on homeless children can be a determining factor in how well a child recovers from being homeless.
The Unknown Struggles of Homeless Children
Homeless can be defined as having no home or permanent place of residence. Homelessness interrupts and even destroys many families. Children of homeless families are not given a choice of whether to be homeless or not; they are placed in these situations because of their families. Frequently, homeless children are the “unheard” victims of homelessness. “Homelessness for a child is more than the loss of a home. It affects children in every aspect of life.” (Bassuk, 2007, p. 498). It can have a positive and/or negative affect throughout the child’s life. School becomes the most stable environment that a homeless child has. As a student, does homelessness increase or minimize a child’s desire to succeed in life? There are many different types of homeless children. Homeless children are defined as: Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason. Children who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, shelters, or awaiting foster care placement. Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, and similar settings. Homeless children and youth have difficulty in school due to the instability in their lives. This instability usually results in inconsistent contact with family and friends sometimes as a result of constantly moving from area to area. Each move means enrollment in a new school. It has been found that every time a child changes schools, they are set back academically 4-6 months (Rogers 1991). Homeless children face many barriers in school. One of the most difficult tasks for homeless children is finding a quiet place with electricity to complete their homework. Homeless children are already at a disadvantage and denying them access to the same education as non-homeless children sets them back farther. “Education is an essential vehicle needed to equip homeless children with vital tools required to participate in today’s global society.” (Bradley, 2009, p. 275) The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act is a federal law that ensures immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless children and youth, regardless if they lack normally required documents, such as immunization records or proof of residence. This act also ensures that homeless children and youth have transportation to and from their school of origin if it is in the child's or youth's best interest. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting...
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