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Homeless children and youth in Illinois have the right under state and federal law to receive supports from their school districts to help them enroll, prevent school changes, and succeed in school. The federal government supplies some resources for school districts to achieve these goals, but the resources are far from adequate. A December 2013 statewide survey found that in a majority of school districts, more than half of homeless students who needed support were not getting the following services:52% said that more than half of homeless students did not receive tutoring52% said that more than half of homeless children that needed preschool did not access it.56% said that more than half of students did not receive counseling58% said that more than half of students did not receive help with public benefits50% said that more than half of students did not receive help with long-term housing44% said their capacity to identify and enroll homeless children and youth not in school was limited to very limited.The survey findings indicate a strong need for more resources. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless advocates that the state of Illinois restore $3 million in school grant funding to assist the growing and unmet needs of homeless students.
More than 656,000 people experienced homelessness on a typical night in the United States in 2011. Nearly two-thirds of people suffering from homelessness are individuals and the other third are people in families (parents and their children). There was a 3 percent rise in homelessness na-tionwide between 2008 and 2009, with the number of people suffering from homelessness increasing in 31 states. Meanwhile, "doubled-up" households that move in with friends or relatives in order to reduce their housing cost burden, rose 12 percent over the course of 2009. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that 93,779 unduplicated individuals exper-ence homelessness over the course of a year. One of the primary data sources is the number of homeless children identified by the public schools. We believe this to be one of the most reliable data sources on numbers of homeless people. The past two years, the number of homeless children in Chicago Public Schools increased 24% , to 15,580 in 2010-11. The city of Chicago does a point-in-time count every other year to deter-mine the number of homeless people in shelters or on the street one night. The 2011 count was done on January 25, 2011 and found 6,546 individuals who were homeless that night. Includes national, state, and local data; information about youth homelessness, violence and homelessness, and incarceration homelessness; charts, graphs, and statistics.
Homeless youth are defined in this report as unaccompanied young people ages 14-25 that do not have a safe, stable place to live. Youth often leave home or are forced out due to physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse by a parent, and long-term family economic problems. Pregnant and parenting teens, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) youth, and current and former wards are disproportionately represented in the homeless youth population. During the 2009-2010 school year, the Chicago Public Schools identified 3,682 unaccompanied homeless youth in school. Based on CPS data, data from shelters, and data from other research on homelessness, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has developed a methodology to estimate total numbers of homeless youth, children, and adults each year including those living doubled up. According to this estimate, there were a total of 11,471 homeless youth ages 18-21 in Chicago during the 09-10 school year. This includes youth who were not in school or were not identified by the schools. Shelter and housing programs in Chicago do not come close to meeting the need for housing for young people. A survey conducted for this report found that the eight programs providing shelter and housing to homeless youth turned away 4,775 requests for housing from youth in a year. When youth are not able to access shelter they are extremely vulnerable to physical and sexual victimization on the streets. Background on the City of Chicago Task Force on Homeless YouthThe City of Chicago Task Force on Homeless Youth is a network of city and state agency officials, youth providers and advocates, and homeless youth working to address the issue of youth homelessness in Chicago. The group was developed through the advocacy of the H.E.L.L.O. youth activism group.H.E.L.L.O. stands for Homeless Experts Living Life's Obstacles and is composed of homeless and formerly homeless youth and co-sponsored by The Night Ministry, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), and Lakeview Action Coalition. The group is rooted in community organizing and positive youth development principles. The youth educate the public, policy-makers and the media about issues affecting homeless and unaccompanied youth while learning to communicate effectively and non-violently. The group is very diverse, consisting of youth of color, pregnant and parenting teens, and LBGTQ youth.Every year, H.E.L.L.O. hosts a homeless youth "art show and speak out", where youth are invited to submit spoken word and visual arts pieces. Over 200 members of the community attend the show each year. In November of 2009, Mayor Daley attended the Art Show. He spoke briefly and promised the youth in attendance he would meet with them to discuss how the city can better serve homeless youth.In January 2010, 25 members of the H.E.L.L.O. Group had a private meeting with Mayor Daley and other city officials. The youth shared their stories and gave a presentation on different ways the city can improve services for homeless youth. They identified five different areas in which the city could improve services for homeless youth: transportation, education, jobs, increased shelter beds, and improved drop-in services.The Mayor also committed to the creation of a city-wide homeless youth task force. The Department of Family and Support Services hosted the task force. Out of the task force, five work groups were developed to work on the specific issues identified by the youth. Each work group met over several months, researched their area of concern, collected information and developed recommendations that the City of Chicago could use to guide a citywide effort to first improve the plight of homelessness experienced by youth and eventually eradicate this problem. Homeless youth were represented on each workgroup and were given a chance to react to the recommendations. Finally, the task force as a whole approved the recommendations. This report represents the recommendations of the city-wide youth task force.
This report demonstrates the extent to which homeless youths are underserved in Illinois. Though the statistics show that homeless youth programs are successful in helping youths achieve their potential, far too many youths never have the opportunity to access needed services.
This report was prepared for the Illinois Department of Human Services by Timothy P. Johnson and Ingrid Graf of the Survey Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and coordinated by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.This document reports the findings from a study designed to (1) assess the needs of unaccompanied homeless youth (UHY) in Illinois and (2) provide statewide estimates of the number of these youth in Illinois. For the purposes of this project, an unaccompanied homeless youth was defined as an individual age 21 or younger who, at the time of data collection, was not primarily in the care of a parent or legal guardian and who lacked a safe or stable living arrangement. Wards of the state or youth who had formed stable private living arrangements did not fit our definition.This study included two main data collection efforts: (1) a representative survey of service providers in Illinois who provide assistance to unaccompanied homeless youth and (2) a representative survey of UHY currently receiving services in Illinois.
Putting Children First: Ending Family Homelessness In Illinois: A Statewide Survey on Family HomelessnessDecember 1, 2001
The recent economic recession and resulting layoffs compounded by a severe lack of affordable housing, lack of living wage jobs, and an increase in foreclosures, has caused increasing hardship for families in Illinois, including homelessness. This December 2001 study of seventeen agencies that serve homeless families in fifteen counties throughout Illinois and the eight warming centers (emergency shelters) in Chicago gathered information regarding family homelessness in Illinois. The agencies surveyed indicate an increase in family homelessness over the past year and specifically over the past two months. These results, and other recent research regarding the acute shortage of affordable housing in Illinois points towards the increasing need for Illinois to invest in homelessness prevention initiatives and the development of affordable housing for the benefit of thousands of families and children.
CCH estimates that over the course of a year, approximately 26,000 youth in Illinois experience homelessness. This is slightly more than reported in a 1985 state-funded study. Homeless youth are between the ages of 14 and 21, have left home because of serious family problems, and are not in a safe and stable living situation. Youth that experience homelessness are likely to experience abuse and neglect both before and after becoming homeless. We estimate that forty-five percent, or approximately 12,000, of these youth have chronic homeless experiences. Youth in this category live outside and in other public places for prolonged periods, face sometimes insurmountable obstacles to returning home, and have an especially high likelihood of being abused and victimized while they are homeless. Available housing resources for homeless youth do not come close to meeting the need for these services. A CCH survey found that 42 percent of youth seeking shelter from state-funded Homeless Youth programs were turned away last year due to lack of resources. Eighty-eight percent of state-funded crisis intervention programs for youth responded that they need additional residential resources for homeless youth. Abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual), substance abuse by a parent, absence of a parent, and long-term family economic problems are all common family experiences among youth that experience homelessness. Pregnant and parenting teens, former and current wards, and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning (LGBTQ) account for a highly disproportionate segment of the population of homeless youth. Homeless youth, particularly those with chronic experiences, have a difficulty meeting their basic needs, as well as a high likelihood for physical and sexual victimization, engaging in substance abuse, engaging in unprotected sexual activity, and delinquency. Many are not enrolled in or regularly attending school, and these youth have limited access to services for their physical and emotional health care needs. Due to a 1999 increase in funding for programs serving homeless youth, however, the State of Illinois has made some progress in recent years with regard to providing shelter and supportive services for this vulnerable population. For example, in fiscal year 2000 IDHS spent $4.17 million on programs specifically for homeless youth and served 2,105 youth. In 1996, when the state spent half as much on these programs, only 986 youth were served. Between 1986, when the state started funding programs for homeless youth, and 1994 the state only spent about $1 million annually for these programs. We recommend that the State of Illinois increase expenditures for emergency, transitional, and long-term supportive housing for currently homeless youth, in order to assist these youth in becoming self-sufficient, productive adults. We also recommend that more resources be put into the prevention of youth homelessness through early intervention with at-risk families. Finally, we call for the expansion and implementation of policies that promote the long-term economic and social stability of families.
CCH estimates that, over the course of a year, more than 25,000 youth in Illinois experience homelessness. Homeless youth are between the ages of 14 and 21 who have left home because of serious family problems, are not in a safe and stable living situation, and cannot be reunited with their families.
The lack of affordable, permanent housing forces many families to move frequently and results in many children changing schools repeatedly. Such mobility has a devastating impact on the educational opportunities of children experiencing a housing crisis.
A training manual for shelter providers, residents, staff and advocates on the educational rights of homeless children and youth.
National data suggests that young people transitioning from wardship to adulthood experience the expectation of self sufficiency as too fast, unplanned and unexpected, making them feel "dumped" by the system, helpless to take control of their lives, and unhopeful about the future. Id. In Illinois, approximately 2,000 youth spend their seventeenth birthday in foster care. The picture of youth aging out of the system in Illinois is no more hopeful than the national picture, as shown in a recent study of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, in which caseworkers responded to questions about a sampling of 580 older youth living in substitute care. Only 52% of the wards age 18 and older had a high school diploma. Only 12.8% were working full time.
The obstacles facing homeless children and youth in securing a "free appropriate public education" are truly daunting. The frequent, often forced mobility of homeless families is a major barrier to maintaining their children's attendance at any particular school. The bureaucratic structure of school systems coupled with the multiple demands placed on the parents of homeless children is an additional--sometimes insurmountable--obstacle to school enrollment and attendance. Equally troubling is the prejudice homeless children and youth face in the systems that serve them; such bias often denies them the choices and opportunities afforded other children. This article is an in-depth look into the struggle to improve educational access for homeless children and youth in Chicago. Because Chicago's school system is both massive and bureaucratic, our hope is that the significant success achieved in Chicago through litigation and advocacy will inspire others to confront and work closely with the schools in their communities.
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