Tag Archives: pre-school

RECOGNIZING HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH COMMON CHARACTERISTICS

The following 55 characteristics of homeless children and youth help educators and service organizations recognize homeless children and youth.  Often they are in classrooms, including Sunday School, hungry, perhaps malnourished even, and always tired.   They probably have not acknowledged that they are homeless.  Often they are told not to.   These characteristics are clues that something is very wrong and needs looking into so that help can be given.   If any student or child exhibits more than a few of these characteristics, it could be because they are homeless, perhaps living out of cars or other inappropriate conditions.

Depression/Anxiety
Poor/Short attention span
Aggressive behavior
Withdrawn
Unwilling to socialize at recess
Anxiety late in the day
Lying about where the parents are or where they are living
Protective of parents/Covers for parents
Poor self-esteem
Developmental delays
Fear of abandonment
Disturbed relationships
Difficulty making transition
Difficulty trusting people
Old beyond years
School phobia (want to be with parent)
Need immediate gratification
Unwillingness to risk forming relations with classmates and teachers
Clinging behavior
Poor health/Nutrition
Skin rash
Respiratory problems
Increased vulnerability to colds and flu
Unattended dental needs/ Unattended medical needs
May lack immunization records
Hunger
Hordes food at snack time
Poor hygiene
Lack of shower facilities/Washers etc,.
Wears same clothes for several days
Inconsistent grooming-well groomed one day, poorly groomed the next day
Transportation/Attendance problems
Numerous absences
Does not participate in field trips
Does not participate in after-school activities
Does not attend school on days when students bring special treats
Parents do not attend parent-teacher conferences, open houses, etc.
Parents unreachable
Lack of continuity in education
Gaps in skill development
Mistaken diagnosis of abilities
Difficulty adjusting to new school
Many different schools in a short time span
Does not have personal records needed to enroll
Poor organizational skills
Poor ability to conceptualize
Lack of privacy/Personal space after school
Fatigue
Incomplete, missing homework (not place to do homework or keep supplies)
Withdrawn/Unable to complete special projects (no access to supplies)
Loss of books and other supplies on a regular basis
Refusing invitations from classmates
Concern for safety of belongs
Lack of basic school supplies
Inability to pay fees

The above list came from the Texas  State Compensatory Office

Oldtimer Comment:  Click here for all Homeless Youth articles.

Educational Rights of Homeless Youth

US Homes and Communities logoThe federal McKinney-Vento Act protects the rights of children and youth in homeless situations to attend and succeed in school, including pre-school.

The McKinney-Vento Act applies to all children and youth who do not have a fixed, regular and adequate residence, including children and youth who are: staying with friends or relatives because they lost their housing; awaiting foster placement; or living in emergency or transitional shelters, motels, domestic violence shelters, campgrounds, inadequate trailer parks, cars, public spaces, abandoned buildings and bus/train stations.

Children and youth in homeless situations have the right to:

Arrow Go to school, no matter where they live or how long they have lived there;
Arrow Choose between the local school where they are living, the school they attended before they lost their housing, or the school where they were last enrolled;
Arrow Enroll in school without proof of residency, immunizations, school records, or other documents;
Arrow Get transportation to school;
Arrow Get all the school services they need;
Arrow Be free from harassment and isolation; and
Arrow Have disagreements with the school settled quickly.

For help enrolling in school or with other education issues, families, children and youth should contact their State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

Google it and you shall find!  Try the link above first.

Homelessness Among Children and Youth – Basic Facts

Homeless Baby Activity CenterDid you know that children make up 39% of the homeless population and 42% of these children are under 5 years of age?   (Note the baby activity center in the homeless camp picture ).  Children under about 12-14 are most often part of a homeless family, usually with only one parent present.   There have been instances of children as young as 9 living on the streets without any relative present, but thankfully,  below about 13, it is rare.  

According to state departments of education across the country, 35% of homeless children lived in shelters, 34% were in group situations with family or friends, and 23% were in motels or other places in 2000. 

Homeless children and youth face a number of problems.  These include developmental problems, abuse and neglect, lack of effective education,  among others.     The National Law Center created a report in June 2006 summarizing basic facts about our homeless youngsters.  

The data mentioned here can be found in its entirity here (5 pages plus 4 pages of citations): 

Developmental Problems

Lack of a stable living situation can be mentally and physically harmful to children and youth.

Homeless infants are four times more likely to require special care at birth than other infants.   Toddlers who are homeless usually develop at a slower pace than those who have stable homes.   Homeless children are twice as likely to have a learning disability and are three times more likely than other children to have emotional or behavioral problems

33% of runaway youth state it was because of sexual abuse, while 50% report it was due to physical abuse.   Sheltered homeless children have twice as many ear infections, five times more gastrointestinal problems, six times as many speech problems, and four times as many have asthma.  

 Abuse and Neglect

25% of the adult homeless population report having experienced physical and/or sexual abuse as a child by someone with whom they lived.   Homeless children are physically abused at twice the rate of other children.  

33% of the adult homeless population report running away from home as children and  27% report living in foster care or in a group home.    22% of the homeless population report being forced to leave home.

21% of the adult homeless population experience homelessness during childhood.  Homeless children are three times as likely to have been sexually abused as other children.

Lack of Education Perpetuates Homelessness

    38% of adult homeless individuals do not have a high school degree by age 18 and 53% report having dropped out of either elementary, middle, or high school for an indefinite period of time.   18% of the homeless population say they were expelled from school and only 62% of the homeless population have a high school diploma.