Takepart.com recently reported on new information from the Department of Education re: homelessness in the United States, especially as it impacts school age children. 1.1 million students, grades K-12, were homeless during the 2011-2012 school year, and the actual number may be even greater than this, "because irregular class attendance and changing addresses mean homeless kids are difficult to track." Causes for the high numbers are linked to an overall increase in poverty nationwide, and a shortage of affordable rental properties.
The top ten worst states for homeless students are, from #10 to #1: Oklahoma, Missouri, Idaho, Vermont, South Dakota, Wyoming, Michigan, North Carolina, Maine, and North Dakota. In our own state, the "average age of a homeless person is seven" and the number of homeless children is increasing by more than 20% annually.
While there's no simple solution for this, there are ways you can help:
- Feeding America runs a BackPack program to ensure that children have enough food to eat over the weekends, when free-or-inexpensive school meals are not available. Donate to a food bank near you.
- Operation Breakthrough provides emergency aid to families in the form of food, clothing, diapers and more, and accepts donations of all sorts, from gift cards to toilet paper.
- For those who would like to become more politically involved in this issue, Operation Breakthrough also has on-going advocacy efforts in Jefferson City "to help end the cycle of generational poverty."
- reStart offers the only youth shelter in Kansas City's urban core, with services that include food, financial and emotional counseling, and more. You can donate money to support them or your time as a volunteer.
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Poverty and Hunger (Blog Action Day)