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Child Homelessness: A Critical Issue to Florida Families

March 10th, 2009   No Comments   News & Events

Department of Children and Families Working to Reduce Number of Homeless Children in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – A report released today by the National Center on Family Homelessness places Florida in the bottom third of all 50 states among those with the highest rates of homeless children.

The National Center launched a “Campaign to End Child Homelessness” and evaluated all 50 states on four areas specific to homeless children: the extent of child homelessness; child well-being; structural risk factors; and policy planning and efforts.

It is estimated that there are 8,600 homeless children across Florida, with the highest numbers in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties (1,700 and 860 respectively). The Department is working to reduce the numbers of homeless children in Florida through various efforts.

The Family Safety Program works with Community Based Care partners to strengthen families so that children can remain with their parents whenever possible and appropriate. Addressing the root causes of family instability also increases the likelihood of families staying together. Mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence are all factors that contribute to family instability, which can lead to job loss, extended hospitalizations, loss of the family home, and ultimately child homelessness.

“Having even one homeless child in Florida is unacceptable to us,” said George Sheldon, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. “Children are completely innocent victims of the economic and foreclosure crisis in our country as growing numbers of families loose their homes.”

Secretary Sheldon noted that any child who experiences homelessness will face additional physical, emotional and learning challenges. “We are committed to working with Governor Crist, our community partners, and the Legislature to seek out and adopt policies that will address the housing, education and health care needs of our vulnerable families and children in Florida,” said Sheldon.

The Department is prepared to move immediately to make the most effective use of the new Homeless Prevention Funds awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With an estimated $21.5 million coming to the Department, households on the edge of losing their homes will take priority. In addition, the Department is exploring how to use other resources in the economic stimulus bill to expand its existing homeless prevention programs.

For more information on the report, visit http://www.homelesschildrenamerica.org .

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