One of the most startling attributes of the choices that these teens are making is that a large number of them are homeless. According to many studies, more than 1 million public school students in the United States have no room to call their own, no desk to do their homework, and no bed to sleep on at night. State data collection, required by federal law and aggregated by the National Center for Homeless Education
, shows the number of homeless students doubled to 1.3 million in 2013-2014. Many people turn a blind eye to this fact, but Carol Stark knew these numbers to be true, and her organization helps to find those here, in our own local towns, struggling day to day to find a place to sleep, to stay in school, and to get out of the juvenile court system.
Teen homelessness isn’t on most people’s radar screen. Most people usually hear of it only when the teens end up getting in trouble and are reported in the newspaper or when a group of them cause problems downtown. The challenge starts with finding them. These kids aren’t screaming out that they are alone, that they don’t fit anywhere. And as other research has shown, students with insecure housing aren’t all living in shelters. They may be doubled up with relatives or frequently moving from place to place. Or, they may be going it alone…which means sleeping in cars, parks, tents, or abandoned buildings.
Teens Left Behind
4OurKids recognizes that these are the youth that society is leaving behind. So, in addition to the youth coming through the court systems, 4OurKids also emphasizes their program’s strengths for these teens as well. But spending money on summer school can only go so far…54% of the teens surveyed by the nonpartisan advocacy group Civic Enterprises said both material and emotional support is equally important to help them continue their educations, and 4OurKids is committed to both of those aspects.