They are the ones who are hiding, living under a different roof every week.
Without being blamed, they’re homeless. They are teenagers who have to miss the American football games and the school dances to work overtime, so they can pay for their next plate of food. They are poor and fight against the world alone.
“Homeless youth is one of those things that disturbs people,” said Kristyn Conner, the director of development for youth on Their Own, a school dropout prevention program in Tucson. “It’s out of sight and mind.” With the homeless adults, you can see it. “But with homeless teenagers, it’s different because they don’t live on the streets as much as their adult counterparts.”
In its most recent report, the State Department of Education pointed out that 28.391 children and homeless youth were enrolled in grades Pre-K through 12th grade. This number ranks Arizona in the five worst states housing homeless youth. However, this number does not include homeless youth who are not enrolled in school.
In the sixth grade, Javier mentioned that the authorities expelled his mother under Arizona’s SB1070 law, consequently expelling thousands of undocumented citizens from the United States in 2010. He moved to Tucson to live with his father, who was also expelled several months later. Javier spent the next few years living at home with friends and family.
He commented, “I stayed at each distant relative’s house until the financial situation got tough.”
He found a stable home with his brother for a few months, but his brother decided to move out of the state.
While Javier was separated from his parents by law, some children are abandoned or found parents unfit to take the role of parents. “Ultimately, most of the reasons can be associated with poverty,” said Conner. “Large and low-income families may have parents who decide they no longer want to be parents and thus throw the eldest child out of the house because they can get a job and take care of themselves.” “However, a 16-year-old cannot take care of himself.”
Sabrina said she was in the 7th grade when she returned from school one day, to realize that her mother had gone away with her abusive boyfriend, just as Sabrina’s father had left them years earlier. After months of searching for her mother, Sabrina’s aunt, already having her own troubles, opened her doors to her home.
The chart of homeless youth in Arizona of the National Center for Homeless Education (the National Center for Homeschooling)
The report reported that of those thousands of homeless children/young people, 65 percent live with friends or family, 27.7 percent live in shelters or in foster care, 4.7 percent live in hotels and motels and 2.6 percent live without shelter in Automovile s, parks and abandoned buildings.
What is most troubling about the lives of homeless youth is their indefinite futures. By struggling to survive each day, homeless youth are isolated, absent from school, and poorly graded, or even dropped out.
Conner pointed out that what is most heard in the media and by other people is the stories of failures of homeless youth.
“Homeless youth growing up and becoming homeless adults,” cried Conner.
Youth on their Own are struggling to break down the barriers between education and the 5.600 homeless youth in Pima County.
In its 30 years of service, youth on their Own has helped more than 17.000 young people finish high school and receive their diplomas. Garrett recounted that he was raised by a crystal meth addicted mother who beat him in his bad days and was posing as the perfect mother when he was not ill. The Department of Child Safety sent him to a foster care home, where he stayed for five years. Her grandmother, who lived on a fixed income, finally allowed her to live with her.
When he entered high school, his grades were below average and he had no food or school supplies.
Youth on their Own accepted Garret on the show.
The organization offers students an expense program that allows them to earn a monthly pay of up to $140 in exchange for grades qualifications, a program of essential needs where they can select items for the home and a program of Guidance, adhered Conner.
Now in high school, Garret ratings are average A and B. He is up to date to graduate and has reached the basketball team at his school.
“You can’t go anywhere without witnessing one of these success stories of the future,” said Conner. “Either the cashier who deposits your paycheck, the Doctor who takes your temperature in an office, or the teacher who teaches your children at school.” “All these people went through our program and they were homeless kids hiding.”