Young kids are not often the face of homelessness. Yet, in California more than half a million children don't have a stable home. Instead of using the shelter system, parents with kids often shuttle between the homes of friends and relatives.
That's called "doubling up," says Melissa Schoonmaker, homeless education consultant at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. And she says it has a big impact on the development and health of small children. They face poor nutrition, lack of health care and immunizations.
It's the lack of stability that really affects the kids, says Yanira Rodriguez, a preschool teacher in the Pomona Unified School District who has taught many homeless children.
"Anytime a child is moved, it can feel to that child like a death because it's so traumatic," says Rodriguez.
She says young children can't articulate how they're feeling, so they either withdraw or act out. "It makes it hard for those children to make connections with other children, because we're not worried about, 'Are you going to play with me?' They're worried about, 'Where am I going to sleep?' " Rodriguez says.