Homeless Children: Update on Research, Policy, Programs, and Opportunities

Judith Samuels, Marybeth Shinn, and John C. Buckner

May 2010

This paper provides an update on the research, policy, laws, and funding for programs and services for children who are homeless in the United States. Education, health, and mental health for homeless children are examined. Homeless children here refers to minor children accompanying their parent(s)/guardian(s) during a homeless episode. The federal response to child homelessness has included enacting laws that seek to protect the rights of these children, such as those ensuring their inclusion in the education system. This is achieved through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act as reauthorized in the No Child Left Behind legislation. But there are many other federal, state, and local programs and funding streams in place to assist homeless children. These programs cover direct services to children, such as health care, nutrition, and transportation, and programs to assist their families, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs (e.g., Section 8 and emergency housing).

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