On a sunny afternoon in a backyard in America, the grill is fired up, the yard is beautifully decorated with balloons and streamers, and there are voices of joy and happiness as family and friends gather to share in the achievement of a child graduating from high school. But did you know that only one in four children who have experienced homelessness graduate from high school?
You may ask yourself, “How does this happen?” School age children have a hard time focusing in school because they don’t know where they are going to sleep at night. We previously had a family in our program who lived in a tent. They told themselves that they were camping for nine months. Each night the teenage girls had to complete their homework before dark because there was no electricity in the woods. This is just one example of an educational barrier that a child living in homelessness can face. All of this instability from not having a place call to home affects a child’s ability to grow and learn, along with impacting their future ability to earn a good living wage once they are out of school.
At Charlotte Family Housing, we work with families to create consistency so children know they have a stable place to go to each night. They know where they can empty out their bookbag and begin doing their homework assignments. Families are able to create bedtime routines so children can get a good night’s rest and be ready to learn the next day. Having this consistency allows children overcoming homelessness the ability to be a child, and not bear the stress or worry about being homeless.
While we take time to celebrate the great accomplishment of a child graduating from high school and beginning a new phase of their life – let’s not forgot those children who haven’t reached this great milestone, and ask ourselves, “How can we be part of the solution to help children experiencing homelessness graduate from high school?”