On any given night in Minnesota, nearly 3,300 children are homeless—and nearly half of those children are under five-years-old, according to the 2015 Wilder Homeless Study.

Poverty, lack of affordable housing, domestic violence, mental illness and other factors can push families into homelessness, and the compounding effects can be traumatic for children—especially very young children whose rapidly developing brains are vulnerable to the toxic effect of turbulence in their lives. Homeless children are more likely than their stably-housed peers to experience health problems, emotional and behavioral challenges, and poor academic performance. They’re also more likely to be homeless as adults.

While services are available to help, access to those services is inconsistent. One study showed that 54 percent of homeless preschoolers had a major developmental delay and delays in more than one area—yet a 2013 report from the Minnesota Department of Education revealed that young homeless children aren’t accessing critical Part C Early Intervention Services to identify and address delays. In 2013 and 2015, the state legislature missed an opportunity to support young homeless children by passing legislation that would have ensured access to Part C Early Intervention Services.

Join CDF-MN in our support of programs and policies that prevent and address homelessness and provide supportive services to families with children experiencing homelessness.