How Many Homeless Kids?


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Nov. 15, 2017

Groundbreaking Report on
Youth Homelessness!

Watch 2-1/2 min youth video filmed by HEAR US

Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America 
Voices of Youth Count - Chapin Hall at University of Chicago

Are We Really Counting America's Homeless Families? 
political commentary by Institute of Children, Poverty & Homelessness

Counting kids experiencing homelessness is like the saying about counting angels on the head of a pin. Be assured, the numbers are far higher than most could imagine, and the estimates HEAR US offers are conservative.

Despite the ongoing, growing level of families and youth becoming homeless in the past 30+ years, estimates of this population are extremely inaccurate and confusing. That’s another story for another day. 

HEAR US previously publicly stated that the U.S. has more than 3 million homeless kids. That number, an estimate, undoubtedly low, has been revised to factor in the latest research (Missed Opportunities, Chapin Hall, 11/17):

Sub-groups of homeless children, youth, young adults Estim. #s
Identified in schools 1.3 mil
Unidentified in schools 1 mil+
Babies and toddlers (estimate)* 1.3 mil
Unaccompanied youth (13-17)* 700k
Unaccompanied young adults (18-25)**
* Missed Opportunities report, 11/17
3.5 mil

Estimated total infants - young adult homeless in U.S.

6.8 mil
Estimated total infants-young adults including unidentified 7.8 mil

The U.S. Department of Education reported that in 2016-17, more than 1.3 million young children birth-5-yo were served in their programs. 

The U.S. Department of Education requires schools to identify and report how many homeless students they serve—1.3 million (2015-16 school year)

            • That number is an undercount—some districts still report 0 homeless students, despite the impossibility. Some kids don’t get counted because their families don’t self identify, or they don’t realize their “hard times” that include loss of housing qualifies them as “homeless,” (not something people want to be identified as). Shame is a factor, so is fear of child welfare authorities removing the kids from parents. Experts in homeless ed agree that probably at least another million are homeless but not included.
            • Another way of figuring, 4%, a conservative estimate, of 50 million school kids = 2 million experience homelessness. That doesn’t include the little ones and the bigger ones not in school. (see Missed Opportunities report for details on youth and young adult homelessness.

It all boils down to TOO MANY! Time for action! 

Other Yay Babies! Yay Kids! resources:

History - Who Is Charlie?

How To Use the Charlie Book?

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