Here in Hawai'i everyone knows the homelessness among children and families is growing out of control. There are a new set of homeless demographics as well as the generational impacts born on these islands. Project Hawai’i, Inc. is proud to be part of the solution to help these children beat the odds that have been stacked up against them from birth. Because our director was raised in a homeless and unfriendly childhood environment, she understands the impact and has the experience to help end it. Our director did beat the odds. In a broken family with many traumas that are normal to this society, she was able to escape and end the cycle in her own children's life.
While Hawai'i has held the position of NUMBER ONE!!, YES, Number one in the nation for having the most homeless children in America for the past 5 years, here are the America’s Youngest Outcasts reports on child homelessness in the United States based on the most recent federal data that comprehensively counts homeless children, using more than 30 variables from over a dozen established data sets.
A staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless each year in America. This historic high represents one in every 30 children in the United States. and according to Hawaii's government census Hawai'i has one 22.2 children homeless. To put this in perspective on a different view, 89% of all children in public schools receive free or reduced lunches. And some schools are exempt from an application process because the numbers are 99.9% and it saves the paperwork to find those handful of children who won't qualify.
Based on a calculation using the most recent U.S. Department of Education’s count of homeless children in U.S. public schools and U.S. Census data:
2,483,539 children experienced homelessness in the U.S.
This represents one in every 30 children in the U.S.
Major causes of homelessness for children in the U.S. include: (1) the nation’s high poverty rate; (2) lack of affordable housing across the nation; (3) continuing impacts of the Great Recession in 2008-2016; (4) racial disparities; (5) the challenges of single parenting; and (6) the ways in which traumatic experiences, especially domestic violence, precede and prolong homelessness for families.
For Hawai'i, we are impacted with the national crisis along with our own infrastructure or... lack of it to help the homeless children and families succeed. While all the above is a natural cause of homelessness here on our islands, the majority of homelessness was created from lack of simple basic education and the life skills one needs to become part of society. The odds of a homeless child who was born into generational homelessness (3 or more generations back )is definitely more inhibiting than those who families who have grown with the skills and benefits needed to succeed. The children Project Hawai’i, Inc. works with include those children who are born to a parent who themself was born into homelessness and remained in that situation for a lifetime just to repeat the cycle. The children we work with have grandparents who have lived in homeless situations are still remain homeless while caring for the grandchildren. Everyone of these adults raising our homeless children have not managed to obtain a diploma from school, have successful obtained employment, have had the proper life or social skills to fit in society and therefore, the results lead to even more outcast children growing up in our society here on the islands.
The impact of homelessness on the children, especially young children, is devastating and may lead to changes in brain architecture that can interfere with learning, emotional self- regulation, cognitive skills, and social relationships. The unrelenting stress experienced by the parents, most of whom are women parenting alone, may contribute to residential instability, unemployment, ineffective parenting, and poor health.
Project Hawai’i, Inc. has been on these islands since 2003 creating programs and events that change the course of which these children are born and raised. Against all the odds, our children are succeeding and breaking the cycle of which they were born.
Our programs are designed to help the child's brain development reverse the natural path of their surroundings and reconstruct with the proper life and social skills needed to become successful in school and beyond. The impact paragraph above of what the child lacks as they are being raised in extreme poverty situations are all taught at our summer camp programs, in our teen mentoring workshops, within our holiday events. Our programs are designed with the structure a young growing minds needs to break their cycle. The impact of our programs are proven within the child's growth. We have children who grow with the understanding of healthy eating, listening skills, self control and future planning. We have teens who are graduating high school and going on to higher education WITHOUT a child from another homeless teen. We have college graduates who obtain career focused employment, we have single moms buying homes of their own, we have so many amazing success stories that all started against the odds of success.
Even some of our team leaders who run this program were once clients born into homelessness and poverty.
Join our journey to help others beat their odds and be the future leaders our community needs. Hawaii can move forward and be knocked off the first place category of homeless children.