Childhood is a crucial time for brain development and disruptions during these key stages can have a lasting negative impact. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, approximately 1 in 45 children experiences homelessness every year. Contributing factors include traumatic stress, mental health challenges (especially depression) and substance use. To further complicate matters, the experience of homelessness itself is considered a traumatic experience and is likely to exacerbate symptoms of mental illness and addiction in both children and adults.
Families who have children of any age living with them who experience mental health and/or substance use challenges are more likely than others to experience homelessness. Additionally, during times of stress or crisis, children are less likely to be engaged in mental health and substance use support services – times when they and their families need help the most. Often, these children may act out by being loud or engaging in destructive behavior while symptomatic on the property. These behaviors may result in families facing eviction and homelessness.
In this 2-part series presented by the Homeless and Housing Resource Center (HHRC) and National Family Support Technical Assistance Center (NFSTAC), we will share important information about family homelessness and the supports available to help families regain housing stability. Our goal is to equip parents/caregivers, the family peer support workforce and mental health and substance use professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to assist families who experiencing homelessness and/or to protect them from this traumatic experience before it occurs.