If you haven't already, you should go read today's gut wrenching New York Times piece 'Invisible Child', which describes the grinding day-to-day realities of child homelessness in the US. It's a long read, but well worth your time. Here's an excerpt:
Dasani’s own neighborhood, Fort Greene, is now one of gentrification’s gems. Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.
It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.
Child homelessness and poverty in the US is an often overlooked problem, and many Americans don't seem to realize how common it is. 'Invisible Child' shares some startling statistics, reporting that almost half of New Yorkers are living near or below the poverty line, and that 1 in 5 American children are currently living in poverty, giving the United States the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation except for Romania. Child poverty and homelessness is not a problem relegated to developing countries; it's something that's happening in our own cities and communities.
Much has recently been made of the lagging test scores of students from the United States, especially when compared to the more robust scores common across Europe and East Asia, and the poverty rates of children in the US is certainly a contributor to these struggles. The Huffington Post recently posted a number of charts showing the effect poverty has on students' test scores, and as you might expect, the scores of children in poverty, who have so much more to worry about than standardized tests, are lower than those of their more well-off peers. This story brings up a lot of questions about the direction the US is moving in, and the society we are headed towards. How can we expect to the lead the world in our children's education when the most vulnerable sect of our society isn't being taken care of?