November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month

Homeless YouthEach year more than 1.5 million children are homeless at some point in their lives, and that number is increasing.” That quote comes from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) and shows just how big an issue  Youth Homelessness is.  Whether the child is a runaway, an orphan or hitting hard times with their family, being on the street exposes them to many dangers – increased likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood, impulsivity, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and a vulnerability to being trafficked.

Almost 40% of those who are currently homeless are under the age of 18, according to Covenant House.  They also state that in the United States, as many as 20,000 kids are forced into prostitution by human trafficking networks every year.  With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that the month of November has been designated as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, when temperatures are dropping across the nation.

Here are some great sites with information for various groups to get involved and help stamp out homelessness:

National Homeless Youth Awareness Month (November 2011)NCTSN

What Is Family Homelessness?The National Center on Family Homelessness

National Alliance to End Homelessness

If you are a shelter, this would be a great time to reach out to your supporters and enlist them to help.  Break down the need into bite-sized chunks to encourage involvement as focusing on the big picture can be overwhelming.  Be specific about what your shelter needs.  Maybe you have enough food donations, but not enough clothes.  Maybe you have the workers/volunteers, but not enough money to buy beds.  Maybe you have enough size 1 diapers, but not enough size 5’s.  Also, make it a family affair.  Brainstorm ways for parents AND their children to get involved and come serve.

If you are not a shelter, or an organization offering homelessness assistance, here are some ways that you can get involved:

  • Find a local shelter that works with homeless youth and learn about what is being done in your community to fight youth homelessness.
  • Volunteer your time by serving food at these shelters.  Many teens who are homeless are not getting the education they need to succeed in life once they reach adulthood.  Volunteer as a tutor to help these youths get or stay on track to a high school diploma or GED.  Proper job training can be vital to helping kids interview for a job and keep that job to meet their basic costs of living like rent.
  • Volunteer on a search group to find homeless youths and help bring them to the shelter where they can get assistance and be provided with resources to help get and keep them off the streets.
  • Donate much needed materials to shelters.  As winter creeps ever closer, homeless shelters struggle to keep enough blankets, towels and coats in their facilities to meet the needs.  Other items needed are shampoo, soap, new socks and undergarments and much more.  Contact your local shelter and ask what their biggest need is, then coordinate a drive with your workplace, place of worship and community.
  • As a non-profit, you may have a related service you provide. Have you thought about working a collaboration with a local shelter? Sharing resources in this economy is a great way to continue to meet needs without going over budget. For example, a community garden program could donate their fresh vegetables to the shelter for healthy dinners.  A women’s quilting club could come together and donate their finished blankets.  The possibilities are endless.

————————–
This article was featured in the November 2011 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
To read the whole newsletter, follow this link.
Sign up today to have it delivered to your inbox!

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: