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Homeless children in U.S. spikes 38% to 1.6 million

By Lynn Herrmann     Dec 15, 2011 in World
Washington - Child homelessness in the United States spiked 38 percent during the global recession from 2007 to 2010, an increase of 448,000, bringing the total number of children in this category to 1.6 million, according to a new study released this week.
The National Center on Family Homelessness’s (NCFH) new 124-page report, America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010 (pdf), ranked states based on a series of composites, including number of homeless children per state, risk of child homelessness, children’s well-being, and policy and planning actions for each state.
Dr. Ellen L. Bassuk, president and founder of NCFH and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard medical School, said, “The recession has been a man-made disaster for vulnerable children,” in a center news release. “There are more homeless children today than after the natural disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which caused historic levels of homelessness in 2006.”
The study found that, each week in America, more than 30,000 children face homelessness, or more than 4,400 each day.
According to the study, homeless children are faced with huge obstacles, as they are more likely to suffer from poor physical and emotional health, hunger, and overlooked opportunities in education.
The country’s financial crisis, called a “man-made disaster” in the report, is the leading cause for the surge in homeless children.
State composite scores found a noticeable trend. Many of the best scores were in the northern sector of the country, while states which scored poorly were situated primarily in the south.
Leading the list of states with best composite scores were (1-5) Vermont, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Maine.
States with the worst composite scores were (46-50) California, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama. California managed its composite score of 46 even after it changed data collection techniques. In just one year, from 2009 to 2010, the state’s reported total of child homelessness dropped by 162,822. During the previous three years, (2007, 2008, 2009), it was responsible for more than 25 percent of the nation’s homeless children.
‘In the face of this man-made disaster, there must be no further cuts in federal and state programs that help homeless children and families,” Bassuk added in the news release. “Deeper cuts will only create more homelessness that will cost us more to fix in the long run. We can take specific action now in areas of housing, child care, education, domestic violence and employment and training to stabilize vulnerable families and prevent child homelessness.”
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