Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

New Toolkit to Help Youth Experiencing Financial Insecurity and Homelessness

Colorful mural on wall of homeless shelter

The Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers (LSUCTC) committee is devoting the 2020-2021 calendar year to creating a vibrant, dynamic toolkit that provides ALSC members with up-to-date resources for working with marginalized populations.  Each toolkit page will provide professional and leisure reading recommendations, support for programming, and materials for families.  As dynamic documents, these pages will continue to grow and develop as we find new resources, share our experiences, and continue to learn.

October’s LSUCTC Toolkit focuses on youth and families experiencing homelessness and financial insecurity. One national estimate concluded that the number of public school children in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th who experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year was a staggering 1.5 million (source: National Overview from the National Center for Homeless Education). With the current instability brought about by the pandemic, it seems reasonable to assume these numbers have increased.

Youth experiencing homelessness may try to hide their current circumstances from others, making it difficult for library staff to recognize when a child or teen is homeless. Resources in this toolkit are meant to help library staff familiarize themselves with this often invisible demographic, provide resources and programming to those who visit the library, and successful outreach and partnerships to those beyond the library’s walls.

What you will find in this toolkit:

  • Picture books to read to children and parents as well as middle grade books for older children.
  • Several community resources and recommendations for outreach when serving homeless children.
  • A handful of successful library programs around the country for homeless youth. If you have a program, we’d love to add it!

If your library is just beginning its journey serving children who are experiencing financial instability or homelessness, a great resource to get started is the Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness website. Although some of the webinars have a cost associated with them, there is one free webinar that can provide a solid foundation for learning about how to serve this population. 

Take a moment to visit the LSUCTC Toolkit for all our recommended resources!

We would love your help to improve this toolkit!  Please email us with your recommendations, favorite resources, and inspiring community outreach endeavors, as well as successful programming ideas and experiences:


Marika Jeffery is a Youth Services Librarian with the San Diego Public Library. She has previously served on the 2018 Caldecott Committee and the ALSC Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at

Joe Prince is the Curriculum & Outreach Educator at Bowling Green State University. He was on the 2020 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Committee, which awarded the medal to Free Lunch a powerful memoir about, among other topics, financial insecurity.

Photo credit: “‘homeless’ the Tallahassee homeless shelter mural left end.” by freestone is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

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