Thanks to the AJ Fletcher Foundation’s nomination, The Salvation Army of Wake County’s Project CATCH (Community Action Targeting Children who are Homeless) has been recognized by the national organization, Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness (ICPH) USA and will be presented the Beyond Housing Award at the ICPH’s conference in New York City on January 14, 2016. The conference aims to start a national dialogue on the issue of child homelessness and poverty. The Beyond Housing Award honors those people and organizations whose work embodies the concept that homelessness is much more than just a housing issue. Their work provides services and support to families experiencing homelessness while keeping the children in the forefront.
Children are quickly becoming one of the largest homeless populations in the U.S. In Wake County alone, there are approximately 2,900 pre-school and school age children (ranging in ages 5-18 years old) who are homeless. This excludes the number of homeless children not enrolled. Project CATCH is a program of The Salvation Army, funded by AJ Fletcher Foundation, United Way of the Greater Triangle and John Rex Endowment, that partners with eleven shelter programs in Wake County to offer services (physical, emotional, and educational) to children experiencing homelessness. “There is a great amount of trauma that happens when you are homeless, and it’s important that these families are connected to services that are sensitive to those children and traumatic events. Without Project CATCH, this connection wouldn’t be possible,” states Project CATCH Coordinator, Jennifer Tisdale.
Since the program began in 2011, Project CATCH has served over 1,600 children and their families through a unique comprehensive screening and case management model that addresses the pressing mental and developmental health needs of children ages 0-18 years old. The program has also fostered a collaborative and holistic approach to addressing the needs of this population in three areas: training/education, direct service, and community collaboration. This is evident through the extensive trainings on the effects of trauma and the teaching of trauma informed care to shelters, staff, and service providers.
The two staff members receive referrals for an average of 30 children a month; 84% of whom receive case management and intervention services such as psychosocial and evidenced based developmental and socio-emotional screenings. Once screened, the children are then matched with an appropriate agency to meet the identified needs. Other services provided to 100% of the children working with Project CATCH include diapers, food, clothing, mental health an speech referrals eye glasses, Head Start, child care, medical referrals, afterschool care, tutoring and camps. Outreach managers follow the children for a minimum of a year or as needed by the family. Additional projects include More than a Roof, a United Way funded collaborative with Catholic Charities, Learning Together, Triangle Literacy Council, and PLMFT, which provides services and helps house homeless Wake County families and a John Rex Endowment funded initiative promoting healthy places and spaces for vulnerable children.