Homeless Kids Overlooked: In Fairbanks, Hundreds Lack Safe Harbors | Fairbanks , Alaska | News Miner
There is a problem in our community that most of us are not aware of because it is largely invisible. The problem is youth homelessness. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District reports that among enrolled students, more than 400 were homeless at some time during the last school year. The Street Outreach and Advocacy Program, the homeless youth drop-in center, receives multiple calls from youth requesting emergency shelter, especially during the winter.
Youth homelessness is frequently a result of conditions in the home, such as violence, addiction, abuse, poverty or any combination of the above.
All of these conditions are traumatic. If youths leave home for any reason, being homeless itself is traumatic and puts kids in a position to be exploited and exposed to even more trauma.
There are direct correlations between the frequency and intensity of traumatic experiences during childhood and mental health problems, addictions, lack of educational achievement and joblessness later in life. Kids who are homeless and the adults they become tend to achieve less and use more of society’s resources. They use welfare, food stamps, heating fuel assistance, low-income housing, Medicaid, child protective services, public defenders, the civil and criminal courts, addictions treatment and correctional facilities — all funded at least in part by taxes. Anyone who ever has been homeless knows how difficult it is to keep a regular schedule, make plans and hold down a job. For kids, it is difficult to get and keep jobs because of age restrictions or the requirement of a work permit. Even if youths can overcome these hurdles, not having a phone can still prevent being able to hang onto a job.
The homeless youths we know sleep in cars, abandoned buildings and tents.
They stay up all night in stores such as Walmart or wander the streets to stay warm. Often the only opportunities to earn a living are illegal, such as drug trafficking, stealing or working in the sex trade. This becomes a vicious cycle because it is even harder to get a job or qualify for student loans and social services with a criminal record.
via News Miner