Homeless Children: Problems and Needs

Homeless Children: Problems and Needs

Homeless Children: Problems and Needs

Homeless Children: Problems and Needs

Synopsis

An increasing number of families are becoming homeless, often as a result of domestic violence, which leaves women and their school age children without homes. This multidisciplinary volume is the first to look at the variety of problems encountered by this group and to propose strategies for managing those problems. The contributors to this book provide evidence that homeless children often have more acute problems and needs than other children; as a result of the insecurity of their situation, they may experience physical health problems and developmental delay. They are also at high risk of emotional and behavioral difficulties such as sleep disturbance, eating problems, aggression, over-activity, anxiety, depression and self-harm. At the same time, due to their unstable situation, they are less able to access support from the health, education and social services. Homeless Children is divided into two parts. Part I defines the specific problems and needs of homeless children, and draws up practical guidelines for staff and agencies on recognizing and dealing with those problems. Part II looks at policy and service development for homeless families in education, health and social care, and concludes that conventional methods of provision have to be adapted to meet the specific needs of this vulnerable group.

Excerpt

Around the world, the homeless are numbered in tens of millions. Families are born, live and die on the streets of the vast cities of the third world. Thousands of abandoned children survive in the underground heating tunnels beneath Bucharest and other cities of the collapsed communist economies. Gangs of street children in Brazil maintain themselves by theft and prostitution, and are culled by legally-tolerated death squads (Scanlon et al. 1998). In Hong Kong, old people live in 'caged houses', locking themselves in with their remaining possessions. Even in the societies of western Europe and North America, prosperous citizens on their way to work see homeless people sleeping in the doorways of shops, keeping warm around heating ducts, and sheltering under the bridges which carry commuter trains to the cities. Their reaction mixes sympathy and fear, and these same emotions drive public policy. Public funds are allocated to provide temporary accommodation for people sleeping rough, and treatment for those with a mental illness or who misuse substances. But this is often combined with greater police powers to clear the streets and protect the public from the homeless.

Public policy in western Europe and North America has therefore been directed at the 'visible homeless'. Less attention has been paid to the larger number of families and children who become homeless each year, and who are placed in homeless centres or other temporary accommodation provided by local authorities, or who double up with friends and family. This group is diverse, and the reasons that lead to homelessness are complex. Official definitions and policy documents in England usually adopt the statutory definition of 'homelessness', corresponding to the group of individuals or families who are accepted as 'homeless' by local housing authorities. This excludes applicants deemed to have made themselves intentionally homeless . . .

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