We all have a role in reducing homelessness

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Common sense, and research, tell us that homelessness and all that goes with it can permanently hurt a child's development. And it has been front-page news that there has been a significant growth in homeless children ("Across U.S., a Record Number of Homeless School Kids," Oct. 30).

Imagine yourself as a first grader, and you, your mother and baby sister are homeless. You have a spelling test tomorrow, but you are tired from not sleeping well and you are upset because your baby sister is crying all the time. The adults at the shelter tell you that Mom has post-traumatic stress disorder. You don't know what that is, but it sounds scary. They tell you that you need to help with your baby sister, but your mom told you to study. She tells you she has high hopes for you!

Allegheny County has more infants and children per capita in homeless housing programs than all but one other county in Pennsylvania. Common sense, and research, tell us what to do to help these children and their baby siblings grow up healthy and happy. But we don't. Why?

Let's ask the Post-Gazette to interview our community leaders and tell us what can be done in 2014 for each homeless kid in school, and their baby siblings, before they go to school.

RAY FIRTH

Policy Initiatives Director, Office of Child Development, University of Pittsburgh

Point Breeze


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