Presenters Michelle Clayton and Susie Richards, both Children’s Resource Program Coordinators, from the Southern and Eastern Regions respectively looked at issues of homelessness and family violence through the eyes of the children involved.
The key is that, children’s experiences of homelessness are very different to those of adults.
The important moments in this journey might be leaving a pet behind or losing a teddy bear, these are things that need to be understood by the social workers who take on these cases.
But the question is do you have the resources to make a space nurturing for a child and to make your service suitable for a child?
There are plenty of barriers in working with children facing homelessness:
- Who is the client? Is it the child, his/her family or parents?,
- Children aren’t often funded as clients,
- Children can be somewhat invisible to the worker (as they’re often as school and cannot often be accessed on week days),
- There is a belief that children are resilient,
- There is also a belief that fixing the homelessness problem will fix the child (even though the trauma of such an event will impact onto the child’s life for a long period),
- Parents are protective of children and generally have reasonable parenting abilities,
- Children’s issues not addressed because of the hierarchy of needs within the family.
The role of the Statewide Children’s Resource Program is to try and overcome these barriers through training, much of which is offered free to agencies, and resource distribution to aid workers who are trying to engage with children facing homelessness.
The program aims to raise awareness among workers about the impacts on health, mental health, education and emotional stability that homelessness can have on a child and some of the simple things that can be done to aid kids through this time, such as having toys for kids to play with in the office.
Workers in this area need to assess their current ideas of children’s rights and their usual methods of dealing with family homelessness.
The Statewide Children’s Resource Program seeks to inspire this assessment and teach workers to improve their practice and support children who face homelessness.
For more information on the type of resources developed visit http://www.homelesskidscount.org/
Post written by youth bloggers from SYN Media.