Your Name and Title: Dr. Vikki C. Terrile, Assistant Professor

Library, School, or Organization Name: Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, Queens College, CUNY

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: New York City, NY, USA

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s): public librarians, youth services librarians

Short Session Description (one line): This session will explore opportunities for finding and serving families with children in your community who are experiencing homelessness.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like): Families with children are all but ignored in the discussion of homeless services in libraries (note that they were not mentioned in the call for proposals for this conference). In the U.S., families with children are a significant part of the population of those experiencing homelessness and school districts across the country have been reporting record numbers of students identified as homeless following the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike chronically homeless adults who may be highly visible in libraries and communities, families experiencing homelessness are often hidden and invisible. Thus, it is up to libraries and librarians to find them.

Children who experience homelessness are more likely to experience mental and physical health difficulties and to struggle in school than their stably housed peers. The trauma they experience and disruptions to their education may have long-term impacts on their academic performance, including in reading. Most children experiencing homelessness are under age seven, the vital years of learning and development. High school students identified as homeless have the lowest rates of graduation of any group of students.

Public libraries and librarians should be working with schools, shelter and other service providers, and families to support the reading and literacy needs of children (and their families) experiencing homelessness. Yet based on the scholarly and practitioner library literature and on library listservs, library services with children and families who are experiencing homelessness are as invisible as the families themselves. This session will review the statistics on child homelessness, its impact on reading and learning, and how libraries can step in and step up to support families.

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