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Ensuring Every Child Has a Smart Start (Part Three)

Homeless statistic


For most people the term “homeless” conjures up images of the people society would rather ignore. People often picture a haggard man on a street corner clutching a brown paper sack and begging for money. It is easy to forget that there are many children in America that do not have a place to call home. It is difficult to obtain accurate data on homeless youth due to their transient lifestyles but estimates say that at least 1.6 million children in America are homeless. Oklahoma ranks as 40th state in the nation for homeless children with over 27,000 children considered homeless.  Homelessness affects a child’s cognitive development, physical health, and mental wellbeing. Homeless youth are more likely to abuse drugs, engage in sexual activities in order to ensure their basic needs are met, and face a very real threat of physical violence. Over 5,000 homeless youth will die this year due to assault, illness or suicide.

The government has recognized that these children are in desperate need of help and started many efforts to improve lives of homeless youth. These programs include: school readiness plans to assist homeless youth, funding various shelters, and organizations who try to support this growing group of at risk children.

Housing programs have also helped reduced the number of homeless children. Programs such as Housing and Urban Development (HUD), emergency shelters, transitional shelters, and the foster care system help to ensure that as many children as possible have a stable living environment.

Many organizations exist to help homeless youth. The National Center on Family Homelessness is an excellent organization whose sole purpose is to help homeless families. Their monthly newsletters are informative and an excellent resource to get information about helping children nationwide as well as locally. The City Rescue Mission is a wonderful organization that has a major impact on the Oklahoma community. The application process for volunteers usually takes about two weeks. They have regular volunteer opportunities but request that you schedule your visit ahead of time.   




By: Amanda Walters.

Walters graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a B.A. in English in May 2013. She is a passionate advocate for homelessness issues and is active in Habitat for Humanity as well as Feed the Children. 

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