In 2011, that added up to more than 500,000 people. Since 2007, family homelessness has increased by more than 13 percent. Indeed, there is a growing prevalence of child and family homelessness across America.
While it is important to track the federal, state and local policies that impact homelessness, we can’t forget about getting involved on a personal level with the growing numbers of families that are struggling since the Great Recession.
You can visit a local shelter, meet a homeless family and see first hand the damage poverty is doing to young mothers and children. Then, become a big brother or sister, a role model for these young families to help them dream again. You are meeting an immediate need while also helping to stem generational poverty.
You can also contact your local department of social services, United Way, or religious organization to find out where the need is in your community. Also, speak with the homeless liaison at your local school to see what needs they have identified in your neighborhood. There are many ways that you (and your children) can help families right in your community. Here are a few other ideas.
4. From Dr. Deborah Frank, founder and principal investigator, Children’s HealthWatch: “Fund the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at the maximum authorized level”
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides low-income households with assistance in paying their utility bills – particularly those that must spend higher proportions of their income on home energy.
To be eligible for LIHEAP, families must have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level – less than $35,000 annually for a family of four
When Children’s HealthWatch compared children in families that do and do not receive LIHEAP assistance – after controlling for participation in SNAP and WIC – we found that children in families that received LIHEAP were less likely to be at risk of growth problems, more likely to have healthier weights for their age and less likely to be hospitalized when seeking care for acute medical problems.
As pediatricians and public health researchers, we at Children’s HealthWatch know that LIHEAP matters for the bodies and minds of young children. Even in these tough economic times, we believe it is critical that President Obama and Congress make a funding commitment that meets the heating and cooling needs of America’s youngest children.
Research by Children’s HealthWatch has shown that energy insecurity is associated with poor health, increased hospitalizations and risk of developmental delays in very young children, and that energy assistance can be effective in protecting children’s health
But the president has proposed reducing funding for LIHEAP to $2.970 billion in his FY 2014 budget, down from $3.5 billion for the current fiscal year. (Even funding at the current level has left millions of households without the aid they need to cope with their home energy costs.) Please join the National Fuel Fund’s call to fund LIHEAP at $4.7 billion in FY2014. Although that level is insufficient to meet the full needs of vulnerable households, it will enable states to end a trend over the last few years of needing to reduce the number of households served, cut benefits, or both. Contact the president and your members of Congress today.
5. Sarita Gupta, executive director, Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work and co-director, Caring Across Generations: “Support of a living wage and basic labor protections for home care workers.”
Caring Across Generations is a campaign that unites people to change the long-term care system that supports each decisive hyperlink of us, our family members and our neighbors, to live and age in our own homes and communities. One of the key ways we can strengthen this system is to protect the 2.5 million people working as care givers in the United States. With a projected future demand for an additional 1.3 million workers over the next decade, home care workers make up one of the largest occupations in the nation, yet many of them make below minimum wage.