Children are found living on the streets for many reasons, including difficult or dangerous living situations at home, often cause by parental unemployment, alcoholism, violence and abuse.
World Childhood Foundation targets children who are living on the street without parents or guardians, with their family, or periodically move between between their home, the street and institutions (such as an orphanage).
Once on the street, the child may become a victim of drug abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, crime, and violence. They lose contact with school and other societal institutions falling behind on educational benchmarks. But street children also exhibit a high degree of resilience.
There are currently 1.6 million homeless and runaway youth in the USA.
– Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Many children living in the streets have health problems such as depression, STIs, malnutrition, skin diseases, gastrointestinal disorders and tuberculosis. Such pervasive threats to mental and physical well-being pose challenges when rehabilitating homeless children back into a healthy and meaningful life. Studies have show that up to 90 percent of street children use psychoactive substances, including prescription drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, cannabis, and readily available industrial products such as shoe glue.
In the US, it takes 24 to 36 hours before a child on the street is approached for sex in exchange of food or shelter.
What does Childhood do?
Childhood supports projects that work towards the goal of re-integrating children into society. As a first step, medical and social help are offered directly on the street or at a drop-in center. Drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation is often necessary. Most street children have not attended school regularly if they have attended at all so tutoring and assistance is need. Finding a home for a child who has been living on the street can happen in a variety of ways; some children have a home to go to (grandparents, aunts/ uncles, neighbors, etc), others need to be placed in a foster family for a period of time, or permanently, and for some the best alternative is to find an independent living situation.
A look at one of our projects
YouthLink – Minnepolis, USA
YouthLink supports children and youth who are homeless and live on the streets. The agency conducts outreach to find youth, runs a drop-in center, and provides supportive services YouthLink so teens seeking help are given shelter and safety. Case management and ongoing counseling is available, and if needed, health screening and drug counseling to take steps to obtain a safe living environment creating stability in their lives is also provided. The agency offers specialized services for children who are commercially sexually exploited.