The National Center on Family Homelessness has released a new report on child homelessness in the United States.  Today’s report card updates a study NCFH released in 1999, and indicates  that the problem of child homelessness is worsening.  The Report Card describes the status of homeless children in four areas: extent of child homelessness, child well-being, structural risk factors, and state-by-state policy and planning efforts. 

The Massachusetts report card credits the state for extensive planning around family homelessness, but the state ranks 27th for the extent of child homelessness and18th for both child well-being and risk factors.

The report identifies a number of national, state and local strategies critical for ending child homelessness.  The recommended state and local strategies are:

  • Place families directly into permanent housing rather than into motels. In addition to being safer and more stable, it is less expensive to pay a family’s rent than to pay for their stay in a motel.
  • Prevent children’s placement into foster care due solely to homelessness or unstable housing by providing families with intensive wrap-around services (e.g., income supports, job training, health care, trauma-specific services, supports for parenting, programs for children).
  • Enroll families into federal entitlement programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamps), and WIC rather than paying for costly emergency services (e.g., emergency room visits).
  • Pay for stabilization services for families exiting the shelter system, helping them remain housed.
  • Make family homelessness a priority of the state interagency councils on homelessness and other planning efforts related to homelessness and poverty.

The full policy platform is here.

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