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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Homelessness influences every facet of children's lives, inhibiting their physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development. Homeless women face such obstacles to healthy pregnancies as chemical abuse, chronic health problems, and lack of prenatal care. Homeless infants are more likely to have low birth weights and are at greater risk of death. Homelessness exposes infants to environmental factors that endanger their health. Many homeless infants lack essential immunizations. Homeless children demonstrate significant developmental delays after age 18 months, which influence later behavioral and emotional problems. Homeless toddlers are often separated from their parents, which can cause long-term negative effects. They receive fewer services than other toddlers. By the time children reach school age, homelessness affects their social, physical, and academic lives. Most suffer specific physical, psychological, and emotional damage due to circumstances accompanying homelessness. Homeless children exhibit more health problems than housed poor children and lack access to consistent health care. They are confronted with traumatic, stressful events that lead to emotional distress. Their academic performance is hampered by poor cognitive development and circumstances of homelessness. Their greater needs do not lead to greater access to special services. Studies show that early, consistent intervention can help children overcome many detrimental effects of poverty and homelessness. Priority access for homeless families to such services as long term supportive housing, drug and alcohol treatment, parenting education, nutritional support programs, and after school tutoring is essential. (Author)
Family Housing Fund
Minneapolis, MN