December 13, 2011—Washington State improved its national ranking on child homelessness from 25 (in 2009) to 19, according to a comprehensive report released today by The National Center on Family Homelessness.
It’s an encouraging sign that our efforts to end family homelessness are paying off. In fact, we were one of only seven states to have an “extensive” plan to address homelessness. Nonetheless, the recession continues to hit families in our state hard: Last year, there were 37,631 homeless children in our state.
The 124-page report, America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010, documents the numbers of homeless children in every state and ranks the states from 1 (best) to 50 (worst) using data and research on the extent of child homelessness, child well-being, risk for child homelessness, and state planning and policy activities.
According to the report:
- 1.6 million American children, or one in 45, are homeless in a year.
- This equates to more than 30,000 children each week, and more than 4,400 each day.
- Child homelessness increased by 38% during years impacted by the economic recession (2007 to 2010).
- Children experiencing homelessness suffer from hunger, poor physical and emotional health, and missed educational opportunities
- A majority of these children have limited proficiency in math and reading.
- The risks for child homelessness—such as extreme poverty and worst case housing needs—have worsened with the economic recession, even though the total housing capacity for families increased by more than 15,000 units in the past four years, primarily due to the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).
- Planning and policy activities to support these vulnerable children remain limited. Sixteen states have done no planning related to child homelessness, and only seven states have extensive plans.