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Groups Raise Awareness About Homeless Children in Mississippi

By Daniel Cherry | Published 05 Apr 2011 09:59am | comments

Each year more than 12 thousand children in Mississippi are considered to be homeless. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on a group in the state making an effort to raise awareness about the issue.

A child is considered to be homeless when they do not have a permanent residence. They could be in a shelter, a motel room, or bounced between relatives. Tuwanna Williams is the state Coordinator for the Campaign to End Child Homelessness. She says homelessness often starts a cycle that's difficult to escape...especially when the children grow aware of their situation.

"School age children, they do understand, and they're really embarrassed about it. And children that know they're in the shelters at the schools, they make fun of them and sometimes that causes the children to not want to go to school at all so that can actually contribute to their behavioral problems at school"

Of homeless children fewer than 25 percent will graduate from high school. That makes them much less likely to find steady employment later. Senator Hillman Frazier of Jackson sponsored a bill during the 2011 session which would have created a government council on homelessness. The bill died, but he says it's a necessity the problem be addressed soon.

"They're going to wind up in the system, in the correctional system, and some will wind up in mental institutions. That's going to be a heavy burden on the state of Mississippi. We're going to have to provide services so they can go forward, so they can become contributing members of society, and they can continue to dream."

Cynthia Hobbs is with Voice of Calvary Ministries in Jackson. They offer classes to help adults get out of poverty. Hobbs says during the classes they take the children aside to help with homework and act as mentors.

"If you start with children at an early age to teach them and train them about being adults and moving forward, success, and credit. That will help them as they grow to adults because most adults haven't had that training as they were kids coming up."

Advocates say child homelessness costs Mississippi hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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