A new report from America’s Promise Alliance finds that students who leave high school without graduating are often overwhelmed by a cluster of negative impacts of poverty. You can read the full 72 page report (pdf) online, but here are some highlights (if that’s even the right word) to note:

  • Approximately 20 percent of young people (that’s about 800,000 per year) don’t graduate from high school
  • Toxic home, school, or neighborhood environments–sources of violence, disrespect and adverse health–lead young people to stop going to school
  • Connectedness to others can lead young people both toward and away from school
  • Even young people who are able to “bounce back” from an interrupted education are often unable to re-engage in the longer-term

So what does all this mean for libraries?
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This is the third in a three-part series on serving homeless youth in libraries. Please leave questions, ideas, and comments for us to continue the discussion of this very important topic.

Serving homeless teens is challenging because the line between librarian and social worker is so thin. We naturally want to help, but our skill set does not (usually) include full knowledge of the social services of our region. Therefore, we can only do what we know, what our supervisors allow, and what doesn’t offend the teen.

Homelessness does not discriminate against social class or region, so I was not too surprised what I recognized signs of poverty and homelessness in a small group of teen “regulars”. Poor hygiene, traveling with large bags filled with personal items, staying in a group with their parents, and visiting the library all day (only leaving the library when the nearby family shelter opened its doors every evening) were all red flags. Read More →

This is the’ second in a three part series on serving homeless youth in libraries. We invite questions, ideas, and comments for the discussion to continue on this very important topic.

I’m new to Teen Library Services, having started at ImaginOn, a unique children-and-youth-only library within the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system, only six months ago, but with my background in Girl and Boy Scouting I’m not new to service projects.’  When a coworker suggested that we develop a program addressing child homelessness in our city (Charlotte, NC) to tie in with a photography exhibit in the building, I jumped at the opportunity to create a service project for the teens.

ImaginOn has been hosting a photography exhibit titled “Through Their Eyes.”’  The photographs in the exhibit were taken by homeless children during a summer day camp put on by the local non-profit A Child’s Place.’  This past summer participating children were given digital photography classes provided by David Johnson of Silent Images, and these are the photographs now on display at ImaginOn.’  The photographs serve as a great conversation starter with the teens about child homelessness and how it can affect every aspect of a child’s life. Read More →