This paper presents data from an in‐depth study conducted among street children in an urban setting in Tanzania. It examines the reasons ‘children of the street’ leave their homes, how they survive and meet their daily needs, what problems they encounter whilst on the streets and how they surmount them. The paper also examines the implications of street life for children’s health. The findings show that general poverty lies at the center of the increasing number of street children in Tanzania. Street life makes the children vulnerable to a variety of problems including ill health. Policies in Tanzania have so far failed to solve this problem, particularly because social policies have been dealing with symptoms rather than essential causes. The paper ends by outlining short‐ and long‐term policy solutions and also suggests directions for future research and early intervention.