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Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind: Homeless Children and Families in Small-Town America

by Yvonne Vissing

Availableweb pdf$45.00x 978-0-8131-4890-8
Availablepaperback$45.00x 978-0-8131-0872-8
Out of Printcloth$0.00 978-0-8131-1943-4
288 pages  Pubdate: 07/11/2014  6 x 9  illus

Because they're small, they're easy to overlook. Because their voices don't carry far, it's hard to hear them. We'd rather not look too closely or listen too carefully. And if we don't see them, maybe they'll just go away.

But the invisible homeless cannot simply fly away to never-never land, or pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or make a wish upon a star. These homeless people are children, and they are not always in the inner cities, as Yvonne Vissing shows in this poignant study of families, housing, and poverty. As many as a third of our nation's homeless are found in rural and small-town America. They are all too commonly out of sight-and out of mind.

Homelessness in small towns and rural areas is on the rise. Drawing on interviews with and case studies of three hundred children and their families, with supporting statistics from federal, state, and private agencies, Vissing illustrates the impact this social problem has upon education, health, and the economy. Families vividly describe the ways they have fallen through cracks in the social structure, from home ownership into homelessness. Looking toward the future, Vissing asks if homeless children are destined to become dysfunctional adults and provides a sixteen-year-old girl's moving testimony of the vagabond life her homeless family led.

While the economy and the very nature of the family have changed over past decades, housing, education, and human service industries have failed to adapt. Vissing provides a planning model for improving support networks within communities and challenges Americans with a fundamental philosophical question: Do homeless children merit fullscale social intervention? Ultimately, Out of Sight, Out of Mind compels us not merely to voice concerns for family and community values, but also to assert this commitment consciously through improved essential services.

Yvonne M. Vissing, professor of sociology at Salem State College in Massachusetts, is a pediatric sociologist who has worked for two decades with social service agencies dealing with children.

Mixes a wide reading of available studies and investigations with her own interviews and field work. . . . The blend of broad, faceless, statistical descriptions with firsthand commentary by the humans behind them makes for compelling reading and a powerful argument. -- Arkansas Historical Quarterly

This very readable book offers a valuable addition and counterpoint to the abundance of literature about the homeless in urban America. Vissing dispels many of the traditional myths about homelessness in small-town America -- The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science