Homeless Families and Children

Revised January 2011 – Community Concerns

Families with young children have become the fastest-growing segment of the population now living on the nation’s streets.

A family is considered to be homeless if, due to lack of housing, it must reside in a shelter, motel, vehicle, campground, abandoned building, trailers on the street, or doubled-up with relatives or friends.

Homeless families do not need to provide a permanent address in order to enroll children in school. All children have a right to public education. It is the shared responsibility of parents and schools to see that each child receives it.

Role of the PTA

Support funding and legislation for adequate housing for all families, and inform parents/guardians about how to obtain access to educational, health, and community services.

Recommended Actions

Review California State PTA position statement on Homeless Families/Children. See “Minors” in the Advocacy Topic Index for resolutions or guidelines.

Advocate for sufficient emergency shelters and low-cost housing for families.

Advocate for government retraining and education of jobless parents/guardians, so they can become self-reliant.

Advocate for school policies that recognize the needs of homeless children and families.

Provide opportunities for children who cannot afford school-related activities to participate.

Establish a “clothes closet” or community partnership to provide clean, new or serviceable used clothing, new shoes, socks, underwear and hygiene supplies for children in emergency situations. Emergency nonperishable food supplies also could be supplied.

Offer parent education meetings, using PTA materials, for all parents including homeless parents, or locate experts in the field to teach parenting skills, reading techniques, and nutrition as well as self-esteem. Encourage involvement with shelters, food banks, and other agencies in the community that help the homeless.

Additional Resources

The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act improves services for homeless people, including emergency shelters, health care, and job training. Policies, resources, and a list of current education programs for homeless children and youth in California are available online (www.cde.ca.gov/cilbranch/homeless/homelesstoc.html).

Bridge of Hope (www.bridgeofhopeinc.org)

California Housing Advocates (www.housingadvocates.org)

Clothe Homeless Children (www.WorldVision.org)

Homes for the Homeless (www.homesforthehomeless.com)

National Association for Education of Homeless Children (www.naehcy.org)

National Center for Homeless Education, Greensboro, N.C.; 800.755.3277 or NCHE Helpline 800.308.2145; www.serve.org/nche/

National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness; 262 Delaware Avenue, Delmar, NY 12054; 800.444.7415; (http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov/default.aspx)

U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov/programs/homeless/guidance.pdf)

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