Tennessee Among States Most Impacted By Child Homelessness

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Child homelessness has reached a historic high in America, according to a new state-by-state report from the National Center on Family Homelessness.

In 2013, an estimated 2.5 million children reportedly experienced homelessness in America. That equates to one in every 30 children. The information was revealed in America’s Youngest Outcasts: A Report Card on Child Homelessness.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau as well as the U.S. Department of Education was used to create the report.

Each state was assigned a rank of 1 (best) to 50 (worst) based on a state composite score that reflects each state’s overall performance across four domains: extent of child homelessness; child well-being; risk for child homelessness; and state policy and planning efforts.

The score each state received for each of the four domains were summed to compute a composite score. This score was used to produce the overall state rank of 1 to 50.

Tennessee earned 41 on the composite score, making it one of the states most impacted by child homelessness in 2013. The state's assessment is below. 

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Three other Southern states were ranked in the bottom 10 of the report: Arkansas (47), Mississippi (49), and Alabama (50). However, no Southern states were ranked in the report's top 10.

Child homelessness has continued to rise in America over the last few years. In 2006, one in 50 children (1.5 million) were considered homeless. In 2010, the number increased to one in 45 children (1.6 million) reportedly experiencing homelessness. And in 2013, one in 30 children (2.5 million) experienced homelessness.

America’s Youngest Outcasts defines an individual as being homeless if they or their family lack a regular nighttime residence, live in a residence that is a public or private place not designed for human being, or reside in a shelter providing temporary living arrangements.

Some of the major causes of homelessness for children highlighted in the report included the nation’s high poverty rate, lack of affordable housing, continuing impacts of the Great Recession, racial disparities, and the challenges of single parenting.

Some effective responses that could diminish child homelessness cited in the report included safe affordable housing; education and employment opportunities; comprehensive needs assessments of all family members; services that incorporate trauma-informed care; attention to identification, prevention, and treatment of major depression in mothers; parenting supports for mothers; and research to identify evidence-based programs and services.

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