Starting Life without a Home: Supporting Homeless Families in Nurturing Their Infants and Toddlers

On Thursday, February 16th, The National Center on Family Homelessness sponsored a briefing titled “Starting Life without a Home: Supporting Homeless Families in Nurturing their Infants and Toddlers.”  The congressional briefing was hosted by Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Horizons for Homeless Children, and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, in conjunction with the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness.

The briefing featured commentary from Mary Huber, Research Director from the National Center on Family Homelessness; Sarah Benjamin, Teacher Laison/Education Advocate from Eastern Suffolk BOCES and Family Education Outreach Services; and Kim Cosgrove, Program Director, PACT’s Therapeutic Nurseries and Clinical Social Worker from Kennedy Krieger Institute.

In 2011, one in forty-five children experienced homelessness. Forty-two percent of homeless children are under the age of six.  According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, the developmental foundation established during these critical early years affects children and the quality of their contributions to society for the rest of their lives. The briefing highlighted innovative services different organizations are providing through the use of federal funding designed to respond to the needs of homeless across the country.  The new Early Childhood Visiting Program, for example, was created under the Affordable Care Act to provide states with 1.5 billion dollars over 5 years to implement evidence-based and promising home visiting programs that improve the outcomes of children under age five.  States are expected to target these resources to communities where risks of adverse outcomes are highest, such as communities with high concentrations of poor families, according to Strengthening at Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children.

In summary, planning, research, and data collection remain a continual need to improve understanding of the characteristics and needs of homeless children, youth, and families.  To learn more about the event, visit www.homelesschildrenamerica.org

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