I Had No Idea . . . How Homelessness Affects Children in School, Part 1

By Steve McRee

I cannot believe it, but children at Shepherd’s Gate are already heading back to school. They face many challenges, but because of your support, we are helping these precious children get on the road to a successful future.

We’re only just starting to understand the full impact of homelessness on school-aged children. In addition to causing severe health, behavioral, emotional and mental problems, we know that homelessness is a severe hit to a child’s academic development. To help put it in perspective, here is some information from the Family Housing Fund:

  1. Homeless children experience developmental delays that hamper schooling at 4 times the rate of other children. These delays are due to complications at birth, and less stimulation as infants and toddlers. Homeless children also suffer from constant stress. Combined with the lowered expectations of their teachers, poor school readiness and inconsistent or absent parenting, these factors make it very difficult for homeless children to develop normally.
  2. The circumstances of homelessness also make it difficult for homeless kids to do well in school. They’re constantly on the move, which is terribly disruptive. Forty-one percent of homeless children attend 2 different schools in 1 year, and 28 percent of them attend 3 or more schools. They perform poorly in math and reading, and once they fall behind, they are increasingly likely to drop out once they hit secondary school.

These children face overwhelming odds, but we, along with our faithful supporters, are hard at work to help both children and their mothers get back on their feet. Check back with us next week to hear some encouraging news about what can be done to help reverse the effects of homelessness on school-aged children.

Steve McRee Executive Director, Shepherd’s Gate

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