Solutions to Child and Family Homelessness
Families who are homeless face complex challenges that can’t be solved by any one federal, state, or community agency. Solutions to homelessness include:
- more affordable housing
- wages that cover the real costs of living
- access to supportive services to help people gain and maintain stability such as affordable health and mental health care services and transportation to work and school
Families with children who are homeless need quality daycare opportunities for young children. This allows parents to work, seek employment, or attend school or training programs. Homeless families may also qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a federal program for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children. TANF provides financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and non-medical expenses.
Families experiencing domestic violence need secure places to stay and resources to enhance their safety and stability. Homeless students also need reliable transportation to school. Ideally they would continue attending the same school they did before becoming homeless to prevent changing classes. (The more a kid changes schools and classes, the more disruptive it is to their learning.) School closings due to the COVID-19 pandemic may also have a profound effect on families experiencing homelessness.
Help Homeless Families: What You Can Do
Many people don’t know that families and children are homeless because they don’t see them on the streets. Help homeless families by educating yourself and others. Learn and share as much as you can about homelessness – the causes, its impact, and solutions.
Then, get involved! The federal government—as well as state, county, and local governments—control many of the laws, programs, and budgets that impact solutions to homelessness. By changing laws and policies, we can help end homelessness.
If you are 18 years or older, make sure you are registered to vote. And then cast your vote on Election Day. Better yet, be an informed voter! What have candidates said about people living in poverty and experiencing homelessness? Have they mentioned issues like access to health care, affordable housing, and living wages? Do they discuss domestic and community violence? Do their solutions seem effective to you?
Help on a Local Level
Here are some ways you can donate and volunteer to help homeless families and children within your community:
- Donate toys for kids to your local shelter. Many times, shelters don’t have the resources to buy toys for kids. Find out what shelters exist in your community. Contact them and ask if you could help by collecting toys (new/good condition), art supplies, books, and other things for kids.
- Hold a diaper drive. Diapers are expensive. Donate diapers to a local program working with families and babies who are homeless. (And don’t forget to include baby wipes and rash cream, too.)
- Make sure students in need have access to extra-curricular activities. Activity fees may limit the ability of homeless/low-income students to participate. Reach out to your school counselor or find out who your McKinney-Vento liaison is. That’s the person in every school district whose job it is to help students who are homeless. Maybe there is a way that you can help contribute. Or, perhaps, start a scholarship fund to pay for things like sports equipment, registration fees, musical instrument fees, etc.
- Volunteer. There are organizations in nearly every community that work to support families living in poverty and end homelessness. Some of them are advocating for better legislation. Others are providing families with supports like food, clothing, legal advocacy, financial assistance, and housing. Volunteering is a great way to help your community and become connected to the issues.
Each of these activities may seem small, but together, we can have a collective impact.
Learn more—read “4 Ways to Help Homeless People.”