Housing instability and homelessness has negative short-term and long-term impacts on children and youth experiencing homelessness. Immediate effects include increased absences from school; lower scores on reading and math End of Grade tests; and greater risks of dropping out of high school. As children and youth age into adults, long-term effects can also impact mental and/or emotional health; employability; and housing sustainability. There are thousands of children and youth in households every year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg that access housing or housing-related services as a result of their experience of homelessness and/or housing instability. However, these services and the data collected by them, are not linked. This means that describing child and youth homelessness using one data source provides only a sliver of the overall picture. Using multiple data sources can be helpful, but if these sources are not linked, they merely line up uneven comparisons. Today, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services releases The Child & Youth Homelessness Integrated Data Report, which integrates data from multiple sources to describe child and youth homelessness and service utilization patterns in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The five-part report explores gaps and connections across multiple homeless assistance services that impact children and youth in the community. Data from 2016 to 2017 is used from the following sources: Homeless Management Information System (HMIS); Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS); and Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS). The report was completed by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute; it is part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Series, which is funded by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. This blog post is the first in a three part-series covering different aspects of the report. Part 1 in the series will focus on the context and construction of the report; Part 2 will provide an in-depth look at the key findings; and Part 3 will cover the “So, What” of the report, describing evidence based strategies to address child and youth homelessness and offering recommendations for next steps.
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