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Most clinicians who care for children encounter patients who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This reflects the growing number of homeless families that include children and that homelessness increases the risk of a number of health problems.
This article helps the clinician to recognize patient homelessness and create effective, appropriate health care plans. Of note, the information provided relates to homeless children who are part of families and does not address unaccompanied youth who have somewhat different and unique issues.
Approximately 2% of American children are homeless in the course of 1 year, and trends suggest that the number of homeless children will increase. Homeless families are the fastest growing segment of people experiencing homelessness and currently represent 40% of the homeless population. The numbers of families requesting emergency shelter increased by 15% from 2002 to 2003.