The number of homeless children in the US has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation's high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing, and the impact of pervasive domestic violence. The National Center on Family Homelessness report calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. That's based on the Department of Education's latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless preschool children not counted by the DOE. The problem is particularly severe in California, which has one-eighth of the US population but accounts for more than one-fifth of the homeless children—nearly 527,000.
The federal government has made progress in reducing homelessness among veterans and chronically homeless adults, but "the same level of attention and resources has not been targeted to help families and children," says a report author. "As a society, we're going to pay a high price, in human and economic terms." Child homelessness increased by 8% nationally from 2012 to 2013, according to the report, which warned of potentially devastating effects on children's educational, emotional, and social development, as well as on their parents' health, employment prospects, and parenting abilities. The report ranked states on the extent of child homelessness, efforts to combat it, and overall level of child well-being. Minnesota, Nebraska, and Massachusetts scored the highest, while Alabama, Mississippi, and California scored the lowest.