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Bright Beginnings is dedicated to meeting the immediate needs of children and families living in homelessness

During the past seven years, child poverty rates in this country have increased significantly, leaving 13 million children living in poverty (in 2011, the federal poverty line was an annual income of $22,350 for a family of four.). Extreme poverty rates (those earning wages totaling less than half of the federal poverty line) have increased by nearly 24 percent during this time, with 5.8 million children living in extreme poverty. Young children (ages five and under) are even more likely to live in poverty, with 21 percent or more than two in every nine young children, living in poverty. Washington, DC has the highest rate of child poverty in the United States at more than 33 percent. Young children who are homeless face a multitude of risk factors that affect their happiness, mental and physical health, and subsequent school achievement. For example, homeless children become sick four times more often than other children, experience significantly higher rates of respiratory infections, ear infections, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma. Homeless children are also twice as likely to suffer from hunger as other children and much more likely to experience behavioral problems, depression and anxiety, and emotional problems. Homeless children are more likely to fall behind in school, repeat a grade, require special education services, and less likely to demonstrate academic proficiency or graduate from high school.

High-Quality Childcare Makes a Difference

The availability of high-quality early childhood developmental and family services has the potential to significantly enhance the lives and well-being of young homeless children, and make a difference in the lives of their families. High-quality childcare strengthens cognitive and language development; increases school readiness and subsequent academic success; builds self-esteem and achievement motivation; and improves health, social-emotional development and behavior. It also significantly narrows the gap in school readiness and educational performance and strengthens family life. High-quality programs influence the way parents support their children’s education, how often they read to their children, and the way they participate in their children’s schooling. Homeless parents who have access to high-quality child care are more likely to find jobs, stay employed, and offer stability to their children.