Saint Louise House wants you to consider who’s missing on the bus? Despite the ever-present heat, fall is here and children in Austin are gathering up their pencils in anticipation to begin another school year. The reality for many children who suffer from homelessness is that attending school becomes less and less attainable. With awareness and drive, Austin can make a difference in the harrowing educational statistics on homeless children.
The pride a child feels from picking out their first backpack to debating who has the best pudding snack at lunch are simple childhood moments that shouldn’t be denied anyone. But the children at the Saint Louise House are apart of a growing statistic– where pudding isn’t on the top of their concerns– but attending school is. Children who encounter homelessness feel embarrassed, even guilty, when attending school. The trauma from a lack of stability can leave children with emotional issues, even frightened to attend a school where other children may bully out of ignorance. Educate yourself and your children on the facts about homelessness in our city.
Population: Homeless families comprise roughly 34% of the U.S. homeless population. In 2011, the Point-in-Time Homeless Count by the Austin Independent School District identified approximately 980 homeless families, which includes over 1,300 children. The counts are often lower than in reality, given the families that live temporarily in motels or doubled up in other’s homes.
Who are the Homeless: The typical sheltered homeless family is comprised of a mother in her late twenties with two children. 84% of homeless families are female-headed. Single parent families are among the poorest in the nation leaving them extremely vulnerable to homelessness. Minorities are overwhelmingly represented in the homeless population: 43% are African American, 15% are Hispanic, 8% are white and 3% are Native American.
Education and Homelessness: Homelessness has a devastating impact on children and youths’ educational path. Residency requirements, guardianship requirements, delays in transfer of school records, lack of transportation, and lack of immunization records often prevent homeless children from enrolling in school. Homeless children and youth who are able to enroll in school still face barriers to regular attendance: while 87% of homeless youth are enrolled in school, only 77% attend school regularly.
On average, Saint Louise House receives 50 calls a week from women-led families seeking housing and services. Currently, Saint Louise House is housing 31 families comprising of 31 mothers, 64 children and 1 grandmother. A safe and secure home environment provides the stability children need to thrive in school. With the start of the school year, consider ways to help Saint Louise House maintain the stability previously homeless children in our area need to continue their education.
About Saint Louise House: Saint Louise House provides deeply affordable housing and supportive services to single mothers and their children affected by homelessness in Central Texas. With a deep belief in the power of women to transform their lives, their families and our community, our licensed social workers and case managers partner with residents to reach their individual goals. In an apartment-style housing environment, families are embraced and encouraged to be a part of our supportive community as they work or attend school. Saint Louise House collaborates with our families, our partner organizations, our donors and volunteers to serve the most vulnerable of our community in their hour of need—and in the months and years that follow.
Saint Louise House is currently serving 31 families between our 2 apartment complexes with hopes to expand this year with the help and support of the Austin community. For more information on how to help, contact the Director of Volunteer Services at (512) 302-0027