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Homeless Children

Children who do not have a consistent, adequate nighttime residence are considered to be homeless. There are as many as 250,000 homeless children (birth to sixteen years of age) in the United States, including children who are living in shelters or "doubled up" with friends and relatives. Common causes of homelessness for families with children include poverty, lack of affordable housing, and domestic violence. The lack of a stable place to live can have severe effects: Compared to housed children, homeless children are more likely to experience poor health, developmental delays, behavioral and mental health problems, and low educational achievement. Although the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program established by Congress in 1987 has dramatically improved school attendance by homeless children, their families still frequently face barriers to receiving needed services because of their lack of a permanent address.


Shinn, Marybeth, and Beth Weitzman. "Homeless Families Are Different." In J. Baumohl ed., Homelessness in America. Washington, DC: National Coalition for the Homeless, 1996.

Theresa Lawton Hawley

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 4