Statewide Sleeping Bag Campaign for Homeless
Children across the First State of Delaware
The economic downturn is having an overwhelming impact on families and children in Delaware. Last year in Delaware more than 2000 children were considered homeless or inadequately housed. Of those children, approximately 900 were in special education. The Clearinghouse Review March-April 2009 publication stresses that the pitfalls of being homeless are linked to anxiety and depression in nearly half of all homeless children. There are profound effects on their development and ability to learn. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness “homeless children are four times more likely to show delayed development and have twice the rate of learning disabilities compared to non-homeless children.” Research also indicates that children who move multiple times during a school year lose four to six months of learning and are much less likely to graduate from high school.
The McKinney-Vento Act defines “homeless children and youth” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term
includes children and youth who are: 1) sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as doubled-up); 2) living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations; 3) living in emergency or transitional shelters; 4) abandoned in hospitals; or 5) awaiting, or in, foster care. (Delaware only) The definition also includes children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in the circumstances described above.
In a collaborative effort to give children who are homeless a warm sleeping bag that they can take with them wherever they go, a number of agencies are collaborating to launch a statewide Sleeping Bag Campaign. The goal is to collect new sleeping bags for children ages 3-21 who are homeless or inadequately housed. The campaign will last from September 15 through December 20, 2009. Those agencies include the following: the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, the Developmental Disabilities Council, the Council for Exceptional Children, The Shepherd