Healthy Kids Fair Gives Homeless Children the Right Start to School
For Immediate Release
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless' Healthy Kids Fair Gives Homeless Children the Right Start to School
Free health screenings and school supplies mean homeless children in Metro Denver will have a better chance to succeed when they return to the classroom.
DENVER, August 12, 2017—Over 200 children experiencing homelessness filled the halls of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’ Stout Street Health Center on Saturday, August 12 for the annual Back to School Healthy Kids Fair. Hundreds of health care professionals and community members provided children with vision, hearing, and dental care, as well as immunization screenings, school supplies, and a backpack. The Healthy Kids Fair is a fun and convenient event that helps homeless children start off the school year healthy and prepared.
At the fair, families had access to vital health services, all in one place. "It's exciting to see so many of the families we serve in the Health Center today," said Julie Sobetski, eye clinic program manager. "We couldn't have made this a successful event without the help of all of our volunteers." While families waited at each station, children were entertained with balloon animals, princesses and face painting. After finishing all health screening stations, each child left with a sack lunch and a brand new backpack full of school supplies.
Families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population due to a critical shortage of affordable housing across the country.1 Because families typically stay in motels, doubled-up with friends, in shelters or transitional housing, this growing population often remains hidden. Over 180,000 children live in poverty in Colorado.2 The number of homeless students in Colorado continues to rise, with 24,685 recorded in 2014 – twice the number of homeless students in 2007-08.3
The trauma and stress of homelessness negatively impacts the academic and social development of children. Almost half of homeless children have problems such as anxiety, depression, or withdrawal, compared to 18 percent of housed school-age children.4 Only 77 percent of homeless children attend school regularly: in addition to the instability of homelessness, some schools won’t register children without school and medical records.5
Homelessness has a direct negative impact on the physical health of children. In fact, children experiencing homelessness are sick four times more often than housed children. Homeless children have lower birth weights and twice the likelihood of asthma.6 They also have twice as many ear infections, twice as many hospitalizations, and little to no dental care.7 More than 75 percent of homeless children do not receive adequate treatment.8
Every year for more than two decades, generous donors, volunteers and community members have made it possible for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to help homeless children get the medical care and school supplies they need to start the year off on the right foot. This year’s fair is made possible with the generous sponsorship of: Colorado State Bank and Trust, The Morrison Foerster Foundation, Delta Dental and Kaiser Permanente. The Coalition is also grateful for volunteers and in-kind donations from: Advanced Audiology, Apex Instruments, Bluepoint Bakery, Children’s Eye Physicians, Child Safety Solutions, Edukit, Healthy Communities, HeartSmartKids, ICNA Relief, Level 3 Fitness, MSU-Denver School of Nursing, St. Andrew United Methodist Church, University of Colorado School of Nursing and U.S. Bank.
With a singular purpose to end homelessness, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless opens the door to hope for more than 17,000 homeless adults and children each year. The Stout Street Health Center provided care for nearly 1,000 children and teens in 2016.
About Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
The mission of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is to work collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions for homeless and at-risk families, children, and individuals throughout Colorado. The Coalition advocates for and provides a continuum of housing and a variety of services to improve the health, well-being and stability of those it serves. Since its founding over 30 years ago, the organization has earned state and national recognition for its integrated healthcare, housing and service programs. The Coalition’s comprehensive approach addresses the causes of homelessness, as well as the consequences, offering critical assistance to over 15,000 individuals and families each year. Learn more at www.coloradocoalition.org.
1 Arnold, Althea, Sheila Crowley, Elina Bravve, Sarah Brundage, and Christine Brittlecombe. "Out of Reach 2014, Twenty-Five Years Later the Affordable Housing Crisis Continues." National Low Income Housing Coalition (2014): n. pag. Out of Reach. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.
2 “2017 KIDS COUNT in Colorado!” Colorado Children’s Campaign. Web. May 2017.
4 "Impact of Homelessness on Children." Doorways for Women and Families. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.
6 "Profiles of Risk: Child Health." Research Brief. ICPHUSA. Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, June 2012. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.
7 Bassuk, Ellen, Carmela DeCandia, Corey Anne Beach, and Fred Berman. "America's Youngest Outcasts." The National Center on Family Homelessness. American Institutes for Research, Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.
8 "Supporting Homeless Young Children and Their Parents." Strengthening At Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children. The National Center on Family Homelessness. Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Mar. 2012. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.