Homeless Children

“More families experience homelessness in the United States than in any other industrialized nation. One in 30 American children experience homelessness annually; 51% are under age five.”

– The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth

Impact of Homelessness on Children

When we think about people who are experiencing homelessness, we usually think about adults. Sadly, millions of children experience homelessness every year.

More than 40% of the children who are homeless in Orange County are aged five and under.

These children sleep in cars, shelters and abandoned buildings. Their families relocate constantly, which results in the children being pulled out of school and away from friends.

Homelessness impacts children in nearly every way:

  • Homelessness is traumatic for children because they often experience frequent moves, family split-ups, and living in crowded places before using homeless shelters. (National Center on Family Homelessness)
  • Homeless children are sick at twice the rate of other children. They suffer twice as many ear infections, have four times the rate of asthma, and have five times more diarrhea and stomach problems. (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
Causes of Family Homelessness
  • Homelessness and hunger are closely intertwined. Homeless children are twice as likely to experience hunger as their non-homeless peers. Hunger has negative effects on the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of children. (American Psychological Association)
  • A quarter of homeless children have witnessed violence and 22% have been separated from their families. Exposure to violence can cause a number of psychosocial difficulties for children both emotionally (depression, anxiety, withdrawal) and behaviorally (aggression, acting out). (American Psychological Association)
  • Ten percent to 26% of homeless preschoolers have mental health problems requiring clinical evaluation. This increases to 24% to 40% among homeless school-age children—two to four times higher than low-income children aged 6 to 11 years. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • By the time homeless children are eight years old, one in three has a major mental disorder. (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
  • They suffer from emotional or behavioral problems that interfere with learning at almost three times the rate of other children. (Family Housing Fund)
  • Approximately 87% of school-age homeless children and youth are enrolled in school, although only about 77% attend school regularly. Some schools don’t allow homeless children to register without school and medical records or without a home address. (U.S. Department of Education; National Center on Family Homelessness)
  • Homeless children lack stability in their lives with 97% having moved at least once on an annual basis, which leads to disruptions in schooling and negatively impacts academic achievement. (American Psychological Association)
  • Homeless children who are able to attend school have more problems learning in school:
    • Compared with other children, homeless children are

Our 24 member organizations are working together to ensure that family homelessness is rare, brief and non-reoccurring.
Through the Family Coordinate Entry System, we are able to equitably and quickly match families to the resource, programs and services to help solve their housing crisis.