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Focus on Kids
Understanding the Causes of Homelessness

Home is . . .

Have you as an individual or you and members of your immediate family ever experienced any of these circumstances?

  • A period of unemployment?
  • A long-term illness?
  • An injury that meant loss of work hours?
  • A lack of transportation to work?
  • A damaged or destroyed home because of a fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster?
  • A rent or mortgage payment equal to more that half of monthly income?
  • An inability to keep up with monthly utility bills? rent or mortgage payments?
  • A bad or poor credit rating?
  • No extended family network to help if trouble occurs?
  • Domestic violence?
  • A struggle with alcohol/drugs or mental health problems?
  • Loss of a spouse because of divorce, separation, or death?

These circumstances are not out of the ordinary, and our personal experience of any one of these doesn't mean we are likely to become homeless.

Yet each of time we answer "yes," we share something in common with many homeless families. Perhaps, then, our yes responses can help us more easily comprehend how when several of these situations occur simultaneously, families find themselves temporarily without a home of their own.

(Adapted from the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Homeless Sensitivity Survey, November 2006)

How much do you know about children experiencing homelessness?

  • 1. Experiencing ______ in early childhood can lead to life-long problems with learning, behavior, and physical and mental health: A. Barney, B. Boredom, C. Trauma

  • 2. The interaction of _____ and _____ shape a child's developing brain:
    A. Genes, B. Technology, 3. Experience

  • 3. _____ of homeless children are under age 6:
    A. 10%, B. 25%, C. 40%, D. 75%

  • 4. Most of a child's language ability develops:
    A. Birth to age one, B. Three to four years old, C. After turning 5

  • 5. _____ children are homeless in Pennsylvania each year:
    A. 1,400, B. 8,600, C. 25,000, D. 43,000

  • 6. _____ is a sign or symptom of a young child who is under stress:
    A. Behavior problems/acting out, B. Fever, C. He or she will tell you

  • 7. The ability of a family to cope with and overcome adversity is called:
    A. Luck, B. Resilience, C. Talent

  • 8. To be ready for school, young children need good relationships with:
    A. Teddy bears, B. Television shows, C. Adults who care about them

  • 9. Children who are homeless have _____ the number of development delays as children who are not homeless:
    A. 2 times, B. 3 times, C. 4 times, D. 5 times

  • 10. The staff of housing programs have a/an _____ role in working with young children who are homeless:
    A. Important, B. Special, C. Supportive, D. Nurturing


1. Trauma; 2. Experience; 3. 40%; 4. Birth to age one; 5. 43,000; 6. Behavior problems/acting out; 7. Resilience; 8. Adults who care about them; 9. 4 times; 10. ALL

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Homeless Children's Education Fund • 2020 Smallman Street, Second Floor • Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone (412) 562-0154 • Fax (412) 562-1109 •
The Homeless Children's Education Fund is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with United Way Donor Option #963315.
Donations are tax deductible in accordance with IRS rules and regulations. The official registration and financial information of the Homeless
Children's Education Fund may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999.
Registration does not imply endorsement.