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SOCIETAL RISK

The Economy

States and local communities counting on federal stimulus money will always be in danger of making sharp cuts in programs, including those for children, who are at greatest risk during times when there is a poor economy, falling revenue, and people have increased needs due to unemployment and recession. At a time when there is a better understanding of the harmful effects of environmental pollutants on children, and the need for diagnosis and treatment of these children, there will be a substantial reduction for those on Medicaid. Further, denial of additional unemployment benefits will have a disastrous effect on children, good nutrition, and housing. Provisions must be made for putting special funds into a rainy day account during the prosperous years to meet the needs in times of recession which occur during various business cycles.

Homelessness

An estimated 2.3-3.5 million Americans are homeless at least once a year. People of all ages, geographic areas, occupations, and ethnic groups are involved. Unfortunately, homelessness has a disproportionate effect on women and children. It is estimated that families with children comprise one third of the homeless. Many of these families are led by a woman who has limited education and limited potential for earning, if a job could even be found. Almost 1 million of the children enrolled in public schools were homeless during the 2009-2010 school year. The economic downturn, loss of jobs, foreclosures, and lack of housing for those who are at the poverty level contribute to this substantial problem. In addition, there are an estimated 575,000 to 1,600,000 runaway youth, who then become homeless.

Homelessness, especially for children, leads to hunger, poor physical and mental health, missed schooling, and disruption of schooling because of frequent moving. Many of these children already have problems which are now exacerbated by the homelessness. They frequently have asthma and have been exposed to lead. Where living accommodation can be found, typically it is in an area at high risk of environmentally adverse situations. Even though these children have the greatest need, frequently they receive fewer services than other children.

 
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