By Mike McDaniel - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Putting a face on child homelessness isn't easy, but that's exactly what Tuwanna Williams is trying to do.
Williams is the state coordinator with the Campaign to End Child Homelessness, which is a problem she says is growing state wide with more than 12,000 homeless children already.
"These children are bunked up with aunts, uncles, families of other families. They are in foster care, they are in shelter agencies," said Williams.
It's because of that Williams is urging lawmakers to pay attention. As part of the House Select Committee on Poverty, Rep. Sherra Lane says the problem is too important to cast out.
"These people don't have an awful lot of lobbyists. The homeless just don't have the people to come and make their issues known," said Lane.
A national report card is also out, grading individual states on just how well they deal with child homelessness. Mississippi ranks 41, with 50 being the worst.
That's another list Williams says it's past time for Mississippi to climb out of the bottom of.
"Mississippi is pretty much on the bottom," said Williams. "So we're not responding very well right now."
To climb out of the bottom ten, Williams is asking lawmakers to create an interagency council with a goal of creating a ten year plan to end child homelessness.
"What is happening, we believe, is a lot of agencies are working hard to do their job, but they're not talking to each other so there's a lot of duplication of efforts and the persons who need to receive services are not necessarily getting the services that they need," said Williams.
"We have children that get lost in the system when there actually maybe somebody to help them and it really wouldn't cost the state that much more money. It may be less, if we could get a central agency to coordinate," said Lane.
It may be too late for a bill this session, but Williams says it'll give lawmakers a year to figure it all out.
"These recommendations, we believe are the answer," said Williams.
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