Homeless Children Victims Advocacy Project
Homelessness can be devastating for children, many of whom have witnessed or experienced violence as a consequence of family homelessness. Experience of trauma, especially domestic violence against children themselves or their mothers, often precedes and prolongs homelessness among children and their families, according to “America’s Youngest Outcasts Fact Sheet,” published by The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research in 2013.
The scars of trauma are deep and lasting. “Exposure to violence can cause a number of psychosocial difficulties for children both emotionally (depression, anxiety, withdrawal) and behaviorally (aggression, acting out), according to a 2009 report by the American Psychological Association titled “Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth.” Researchers reported half of homeless children suffer depression and anxiety, and one in every five homeless preschoolers has emotional problems requiring professional care.
The consequences can last a lifetime. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study has shown the progression from childhood trauma to social, emotional, and cognitive impairment, adolescent risk behaviors, and adult illness and disability to premature death.
In response to this heartrending need, the DRC will launch the Homeless Children Victims Advocacy Project in September 2017 to provide trauma-informed services that promote recovery and resilience for children experiencing homelessness.
The Homeless Children Victims Advocacy Project is designed to help homeless children up to age 17 rebound from victimization or exposure to violence by expanding counseling and therapeutic services for those who have been the victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault or other violent assault. It will use a Trauma Informed Care (ITC) model to provide counseling and therapeutic interventions designed to help children build coping skills, improve communication skills, develop closer relations with caring, competent adults, and raise self-esteem. The program will also assist parents with education on the effects of trauma on children, parenting skills, family enrichment activities, and referrals, resources and linkages with other social service agencies to help stabilize the family.