To see the world through a child’s eyes is a wonder. Their pure and innocent perspectives, unhurried by adult responsibilities, remind us of what is truly important. They see and feel everything but do not always understand. Raw emotion, true and untamed, rules their behavior, and the support they receive (or don’t) impacts their development.
“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
With these words, Jesus emphasized the importance and value of children. He explains that if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become like little children—humble, simple, pure, delighting in the littlest things. How do we do this? By first welcoming children, and then learning from them.
This is what sociology professor Kathy Rowell, Ph.D. did while she volunteered with children and families at the St. Vincent Shelter and worked with households in Montgomery County experiencing eviction. She has shared her findings and the powerful perspectives of children in her presentation “Eviction and Housing Insecurity Through the Eyes of Children: A Call to Action.”
She presented heart-wrenching statistics along with real experiences and words from real children in our community who struggle with the real problem of housing instability. Families with children are more likely to experience eviction, instability, and homelessness due to what is known as the “child effect,” or “the combined effects of extreme poverty, lack of affordable housing, decreasing government supports, the challenge of raising children alone, domestic violence, and fractured social supports.” 1
Many of these children have experienced or witnessed some sort of trauma: physical or sexual abuse, tragedy, abrupt separation. Many stay in shelters, but others bounce around between homes of family members. They often sleep on couches, floors, or mats. They are sick and tired. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
As local news outlets report higher rates of eviction in the area (as in this Dayton Daily News article), St. Vincent’s Women and Families shelter has also seen a spike in the number of children coming to shelter – more than 90 or even 100 each day.
St. Vincent’s has been working diligently to improve services to children and families in shelter through volunteer-led child-focused programs and activities, parenting classes, CARES-funded renovation of the family day space, and even the gift of a new outdoor playground from a local church (coming soon!). Conferences (St. Vincent’s neighborhood ministries) have also begun partnering with Sleep in Heavenly Peace to ensure that children in the neighborhoods they serve have a comfortable bed to sleep on.
Children are the future. Let us continue to do everything we can to provide them and their parents with the opportunities and resources they need to flourish.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers for our mission and all those we serve!