This holiday season, think beyond yourself – and think beyond wasting money on stuff you don’t really need. Instead, consider helping someone who really needs the help.

Like homeless children in the US – in your own state or community. This is a population without a voice. We can give them a voice through our actions.

Consider this: The National Center on Family Homelessness recently released a report that serves up the dismal news that there are 1.6 million homeless children in the United States — that’s one in 45 kids and that is unacceptable. Living in shelters, cars, abandoned buildings and parks, youth homelessness surged 28 percent since 2007 amid tough economic times.

The situation is grim nationally, but even worse in certain states. Half of all homeless children in the US live in six states, including Alabama, California, and Georgia (California has the largest population of homeless youth). Of the children affected, 42 percent were under the age of six, and a third of them were living with single mothers with chronic illnesses.

This situation is not one you would find anywhere else in the so-called “developed” world.

Fortunately, you can help. Visit The National Center on Family Homelessness to learn how. (And, if you do, share it with me and my readers here on my blog in the comments section. You can inspire someone through your story of giving.)

The facts:

Health. Children experiencing homelessness are sick four times more often than other children.[1]  They have:

  • Four times as many respiratory infections.
  • Twice as many ear infections.
  • Five times more gastrointestinal problems.
  • Four times more likely to have asthma.
  • Go hungry at twice the rate of other children.1
  • Have high rates of obesity due to nutritional deficiencies.2
  • Have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems compared to non-homeless children.3

Experiences of Violence. Violence plays a major role in the lives of homeless children.4 By age 12, 83% had been exposed to at least one serious violent event. Almost 25% have witnessed acts of violence within their families.

Developmental Milestones and Academic Performance. Children experiencing homelessness are:

  • Four times more likely to show delayed development.
  • Twice as likely to have learning disabilities as non-homeless children.

Statistics courtesy of:

[1] The National Center on Family Homelessness. (1999). Homeless Children: America’s New Outcasts. Newton, MA.
[2]Schwarz, KB et al. (2007). High prevalence of overweight and obesity in homeless Baltimore children and their caregivers: a pilot study. Clinical Nutrition and Obesity. 9(1): 48; Grant, R. et al. (2007). The health of homeless children.
[3]National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (2005). Facts on Trauma and Homeless Children. Available
[4]Bassuk, EL et al. (1996). The characteristics and needs of sheltered homeless and low-income housed mothers. Journal of the American Medical Association, 276(8): 640-646.; Bassuk, EL et al. (1997). Homelessness in female-headed families: childhood and adult risk and protective factors. American Journal of Public Health 87(2): 241-248.; Buckner, J. et al (2004). Exposure to violence and low-income children’s mental health: Directed, moderated, and mediated relations. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 74(4):413-423.

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