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  • Writer's pictureSuzi Dearmont

Youth Homelessness: What Causes It & How to Help

No one should have to suffer through living life on the streets, couch hopping, or in a homeless camp. But watching youth and young adults endure this fate is especially heart-wrenching. To better understand the challenges these youth face, let’s take a look at the causes of youth homelessness. Then, we’ll offer ideas for how you can help these struggling individuals. Abuse An estimated 1 in 7 children experience abuse. Children who experience abuse are 13 percent less likely to finish high school, which hurts their chances of getting a decent job as a young adult. As children age and get out of the abusive living situation, they often have lasting effects and deal with mental health issues, bipolar disorder, depression, substance abuse and other ailments. The effects of abuse continue into their adult years, making it more difficult for these individuals to become productive members of society. Parental neglect Neglect is one of the largest forms of child abuse. Parental neglect can lead to many issues for the child, even to homelessness as children seek ways out of the neglectful situation. Parents who don’t provide basic needs for their child are guilty of neglect. These basic needs include fresh water, food and social interaction. Failing to provide for these needs can harm children’s mental health and lead to homelessness later in life as they are unable to hold a job and be productive members of the community. Aging out of foster care According to recent statistics, there are approximately 400,000 children in foster care. Only about a quarter of these foster children will be adopted. The others will age out of the foster care system. Some will find jobs that allow them to care for themselves. Others are unable to do so and quickly become homeless once they no longer live in a foster home. Many young adults continue to receive financial assistance from their parents in their early years of living on their own. Children who age out of foster care do not have this buffer time to get used to providing for themselves and becoming financially stable. A study found that somewhere between 11% and 36% of youths that age out of foster care experience homelessness in their transition to adulthood. How can you help homeless youth? Helping these youths get out of homelessness is important as it can help them be productive members of the community. Here are some ways you can help homeless youth.

  • Advocate for change: encourage your state to support foster care up through age 21 if you live in a state that ages children out at age 18.

  • Serve as a foster parent and consider adopting these youths in need of long-term emotional and financial support.

  • Donate to local organizations that help youths who have been victims of abuse or neglect get back on their feet or recover from mental illnesses.

Poverty Impact Network removes some of the obstacles to breaking the cycle of poverty and helps individuals flourish. Join Poverty Impact Network in the fight against homelessness among all ages, including our youth.

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