Child Homelessness on the Rise - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Child Homelessness on the Rise

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DOVER, Del.- Child homelessness is on the rise in the United States, including in Delaware.

According to a new report by the American Institute for Research one in every 30 children in the U.S. are homeless. That's nearly 2.5 million children without a place to call home.

On a scale from one to 50, with 50 being considered the worst, Delaware was ranked number 34. According to the report, there are nearly 8,000 children in the first state who are homeless.

The streets used to be what 19-year-old Damian Matthews called home.

"I wasn't compliant with my parents and difficulties had taken part.," explained Matthews. "I had gotten involved with certain situations and ended up here."

Matthews is just one of thousands that found themselves with no where to go. It's a problem Mark Harmon, the program director of AID in Dover sees too often.

"Homelessness is a huge problem here in the state of Delaware," said Harmon. "I think that people need to be more cognisant that there are people who do need help. I know people send money all over the world but there are people right here who need help. There are people right in their backyards who need help."

According to the National Center on Family Homelessness some of the major causes of child homelessness are things like high poverty rate, lack of affordable housing, impacts of the Great Recession, racial disparities, single parenting and traumatic experiences.

Despite the problem help is out there.

"I started out kind of searching on my own, living house to house and finally got myself together," explained Matthews. "I moved into the shelter to be a better start."

A better start at the AID shelter in Dover.

"We help them with resources," said Harmon. "A lot of them don't know there are some resources out there that are available to them so we try to help them with those things."

Even schools across Delaware have a system to help. The staff at Lake Forest School District is prepared to handle children who come to them who are displaced.

"It has an impact but our teachers are understanding," said Edward Cutler, the Elementary Supervisor and Student Services Supervisor at the Lake Forest School District. "When the kids come in they try to have somebody review their work first thing. We make sure with our food program, they kids get a breakfast in the morning and they have a lunch program. On the weekends we have the backpack program where youngsters take food home ."

Child homelessness is an unfortunate problem made worse by the cold weather. But local organizations are working to help as much as they can.

For more information on the National Center for Family Homeless, or for the full report, visit www.homelesschildrenamerica.org

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