November is National Homeless Children and Youth Awareness Month. Last year, the US Senate passed a bipartisan resolution recognizing that every child deserves to a have a roof over their head and a warm place to sleep at night. This is in response to the 1.4 million children and youth who find themselves without housing stability.
Add to this startling statistic the nearly 26, 000 youth who turn 18 and “age out” of the foster care program each year across the US.
When we think of our Catholic Call to Family, Community, and Participation (no. 2 of the seven pillars of USCCB’s Catholic Social Teachings), we understand that each person is not only sacred but is a social being. Therefore, everyone needs to have the essential tools available to them in order to thrive in our society. Family, housing, temporal needs, education, healthy peer support are essential for a child to even have a chance for a fruitful life.
According to the National Network for Youth, subpopulations of youth and young adults facing higher risk include Black youth (83% higher than white children) and Hispanic youth (33% higher) and children or young adults who struggle with their sexual orientation or identity (50%). Although youth homelessness may be fluid, some of the main causes are: instability of parental relationships, child abuse/neglect, domestic violence, parental substance use, or family conflict. Some proven solutions to help address youth and young adult homelessness are: education, nurturing foster environments, job training, domestic counseling services, and rehabilitative services.
Thanks to so many local resources, our community enjoys a deep level of awareness and involvement. However, the work never ends and the need for ongoing education is crucial as we combat these disturbing trends.
As we give thanks this month for our many blessings, let us remember those who accompany our at-risk youth and young adults. May our spirit of gratitude also fortify our personal resolve to helping our young people secure what they need for a healthy and fruitful life.
In Christ Our Life,