MIDVALE (ABC4 Utah News) – This weekend your religious service may include a reference to Utah’s homeless children because it’s Ending Child Homelessness Sabbath.
A light rain fell on The Road Home’s Midvale Center Thursday as politicians and clergy members spoke about kids in Utah who don’t have a permanent roof over their head.
“Children represent our future,” the Right Reverend Scott B. Hayashi of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah told the group. “To not care for children is to not care about the our future.”
“ These are children and they deserve to feel safe and secure,” Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman of Congregation Kol Ami said. “They deserve to be able to sleep at night and to know that they will have a place to return to at the end of the next day. 1 child out of 50 cannot rely on this basic comfort here in Utah.”
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams spoke about the effects of homelessness on young children.
“Today 40 percent of our homeless population are families with kids,” Mayor McAdams said. “As you can imagine, homelessness is not conducive to a normal childhood development. These kids have lower educational outcomes and significantly higher rates of learning disabilities, illness, hunger and behavioral problems.”
They plan to raise awareness and money during their services this weekend.
“It can vary from a congregation saying a prayer about the issue to holding a collection and donating it to a non-profit organization,” Reverend Elizabeth McVicker of First United Methodist Church said.
Some advocates suggest calling legislators to encourage making homeless children a state funding priority.
“It’s just heartbreaking that the basics of having a stable home and food on the table every night isn’t possible, isn’t happening for so many of the children in Utah,” Rev. McVicker said.
Salt Lake City says that one of its four new homeless resource centers will serve women with children who are experiencing homelessness.