In recognition of National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, we wanted to share some information on the current landscape in our community.
According to the National Center for Homeless Education, over the course of a year, between 2.3 and 2.5 million people experience homelessness – of which between 900,000 and 1.4 million are children.
In Glynn County, of the approximately 13,000 students enrolled in the 2022-23 school year, 241 students met the criteria of homelessness. Fortunately, children are protected under federal law, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which ensures that each homeless child and youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschool education, as other children and youth. (The McKinney-Vento Act defines homelessness as individuals lacking a fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence).
People who experience homelessness are not distinct or separate from the rest of the population. Homelessness is usually the result of the cumulative impact of several factors rather than a single cause. This could be due to high housing and healthcare costs, stagnant wages, unemployment, lack of mental health and addiction treatment services, domestic violence, family conflict and racial inequality.
This is especially true for families with children. While McKinney-Vento is intended to provide homeless students the same educational opportunities as other students and remove as many barriers to learning as possible, homeless youth still face various challenges. This includes:
- Frequent moves
- Precarious living conditions
- Health and emotional difficulties
- Academic setbacks
- Difficulty maintaining friendships
As we spotlight National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, keep these questions in mind:
- Could you experience a flood, fire, or other natural disaster?
- Do you work in an area of the economy where your job might become obsolete?
- Do you live in a household with only one wage earner?
- Could you ever suffer from a long-term illness or accident without proper health benefits or other compensation?
- Are you behind on any monthly bills?
- Are housing costs in your area increasing faster than wages?
- Does anyone in your family struggle with addiction or mental illness?
- Could you ever face extreme financial difficulty without anyone available to come to your aid?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, you are not immune to homelessness. Throughout November, help us spread awareness that people experiencing homelessness are people just like us.
For more information regarding services for homeless children and youth, contact Greg Jaudon, GCSS Homeless Liaison, at (912) 267-4100, ext. 1303 or by email at [email protected].