Our goal here at CASA SHaW is to ensure that every single child in foster care has a voice, a caring adult to help guide them through their time in the system. This becomes a challenge when we see certain of our youth become homeless by no fault of their own.
According to Covenant House, cach year, an estimated 20,000 young people "age out" of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18-years-old and still need support and services. Several studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth are often left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations. While trying to survive on the streets, youth are exposed to countless dangers, with an increased likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood, impulsivity, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and a vulnerability to being trafficked.
As you may know, November is National Homelessness Awareness Month. Aside from those foster care children who are homeless, we believe we must do all we can to raise awareness of how prevalent homelessness is in our nation. Here are some alarming facts and statistics.
- African American youth were 1.8 times more likely to become homeless.
- Youth who are parents are more than twice as likely become homeless.Youth who had been homeless or who received housing assistance in the past year were nearly twice as likely to become homeless.
- Youth who frequently changed schools—particularly those who changed schools more than four times in three academic years—were nearly twice as likely to become homeless.
- Having more than one foster care placement increased a youth’s likelihood for homelessness by 1.5 times.
- Youth with multiple convictions (four or more) and youth who had been in juvenile rehabilitation were 1.5 times more likely to become homeless.
Here at CASA SHaW, we also raise awareness of how trauma impacts our youth and families in our community. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), as many as 2.5 million youth per year experience homelessness. Along with losing their home, community, friends, and routines as well as their sense of stability and safety, many homeless youth are also victims of trauma. While trying to survive on the streets, youth are exposed to countless dangers, with an increased likelihood of substance abuse, early parenthood, impulsivity, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and a vulnerability to being trafficked.
During this month, let’s do all we can to raise awareness of homelessness in our communities, and exercise compassion for those who are less fortunate than we are.