Experts: Foreclosure Takes Toll on Nevada Children

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A national report estimated nearly 40,000 children in Nevada will be affected as their families lose their homes to foreclosure.

The report by First Focus, a Washington, D.C.-based child advocacy group, also found that children of families who suffer foreclosures or evictions do worse in school and have a higher risk for physical or mental health problems.

The projections were based on racial and ethnic data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. An estimated 2 million children will be negatively affected nationwide by foreclosures from 2008 to 2009.

The report does not break down numbers by county. In March, Washoe County accounted for 8.2 percent of foreclosure activity in the state and Clark County 88.5 percent, according to RealtyTrac's monthly foreclosure report.

Dr. Ole Theinhaus, chairman of the University of Nevada School of Medicine psychiatry department, said dealing with eviction is one of the most stressful and traumatic events in a child's life. And when kids have to deal with issues in their personal lives, academic performance and behavior at school are typically the first casualties.

Their energy is concentrated somewhere else, so school takes a back seat," Theinhaus said. "Kids feel that they have to mull over the crisis affecting their immediate environment at home instead of time devoted to homework or getting to school on time.

Problems are magnified for children who end up being homeless. There's a lot of anxiety and stress for children who don't have a home to stay in or have to live with adults and kids from other families as a means to get by, according to Carrie Argyris, a counselor for Mamie Towles and Peavine elementary schools.

"Besides attendance and school performance, you also have a bunch of social issues to deal with like the inability to form friendships and relationships at school, as well as the inability to focus and pay attention," Argyris said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)