Poverty and homelessness are major risk factors for a families entry into dependency and neglect proceedings. Many of our cases at CASA of Adams and Broomfield counties will include conditions of poverty and/or homelessness. Nationally, 550,000 youth are homeless in the united states, of those 380,000 were less than 18 and 170,000 were 18-24 years old1.
It's important for a CASA to maintain their perspective when assisting children who experience poverty and homelessness. The law does not explicitly outline homelessness or poverty as injurious conditions, meaning that simply being poor or homeless does not mean that ones children need to be removed. That being said poverty and homelessness may contribute to injurious conditions that would require removal. For example if a parent cannot pay for formula for their child they may inadequately feed their child; or if a family is homeless they may not have any other option but to sleep in their vehicle during cold winter conditions. Poverty is incredibly common for many people; in the united states 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line and almost half of all children live in households that struggle financially2.
Sometimes youth who age out of the foster care system will also encounter housing instability. According to one study3 20,000 children age out of the foster system annually and of those 25% will not have housing immediately upon exit. Youth who are homeless and/or poor also come from a diverse set of backgrounds; 1 in 5 youth who are homeless identify as LGBT+1. Poverty and homelessness also disproportionately affect women and people of color.
One respite for families and youth experiencing homelessness is the McKinney-Vento Act. McKinney-Vento guarantees the right of a child to attend the school they attended before losing housing or allows the family/child to select a school closest to their shelter or other accommadation4. The act also outlines the responsibility of the school district to transport the child to and from school, this may take the form of a school bus or public bus tickets explicitly for the purpose of school transportation4. Another helpful resource is the Family Unification Program (FUP). FUP specifically helps families involved in dependency and neglect proceedings to obtain housing, youth ageing out of foster care can also use this program5. Contact your local housing authority for more information.
1The National Alliance to End Homelessness 2014
3Folman, R. & Anderson, G. (n.d.). Troubled water: Foster care youth and college. Retrieved National Center for Homeless Education • http://www.serve.org/nche 17 May 28, 2007, from the Michigan State University, School of Social Work website: http:// www.socialwork.msu.edu/outreach/docs/TroubledWater.pdf
Adams County Housing Authority, Long Term Housing Programs
- 303-227-2075 7190 Phone
- 303-227-2098 Fax
- Colorado Blvd., 6th Floor Commerce City CO 80022
- Adams County Poverty Resource Guide
McKinney-Vento Liaisons (Public School Resources for Homeless Students and Families including bus tickets and shelter referrals)
Westminster Public Schools
Jamie B. Skaronea
Aurora Public Schools
Amy J. Beruan
303-326-2000 Ext. 28474
Adams 12 Public Schools
Students and families in the Adams 12 Five Star School District in need of community resources and/or homeless assistance may contact the Adams 12 Student and Family Outreach Program at 720-972-6015 or visit the Adams 12 website
If you don't see your district listed simply go to the school administrators and ask to speak with a McKinney-Vento Liaison.
Emergency Shelters (Remember, shelters fill up, so call early in the day and well before the day you need shelter) -
3805 Marshall St, #201 Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Urban Peak (Unaccompanied youth 15-20 years old only)
1630 S Acoma st. Denver CO 80223
2301 Lawrence Street Denver CO 80205
Comitis Crisis Center
2178 Victor St. Aurora CO 80045
Further Reading -