Funds dip as children’s needs rise

BY AMY FLOWERS UMBLE / THE FREE LANCE-STAR

One in 30 American children were homeless in 2013, according to a new report by the National Center on Family Homelessness.

The report, titled "America's Youngest Outcasts" found that child homelessness had spiked by about 8 percent.

And area homeless shelters have seen that increase.

Last year, 11 families with children stayed at the cold-weather shelter for the chronically homeless, an emergency center that historically hasn't seen very many children.

Empowerhouse, which works with people fleeing domestic violence and operates an emergency shelter, saw a 70 percent spike in children at the shelter during the last five years, said Director Kathy Anderson. In 2013, Empowerhouse sheltered 143 children.

The Thurman Brisben Center sheltered 78 children last year, said Director Roger Trott. And more than 70 children lived at Loisann's Hope House, a transitional shelter for homeless mothers and their children.

But as the shelters struggled with the growing demands of homeless children, who often require special services, they lost $25,000 earmarked for child services coordination.

Three area shelters-Loisann's Hope House, Empowerhouse and Thurman Brisben-split the money to pay for case management for children.

Thurman Brisben officials say they remain committed to providing those services, which help homeless children and their families connect with community resources, stay in school and handle the psychological challenges of homelessness.

But they are left to find the money to replace the lost grant, which was eliminated from the state budget during a round of cuts made this fall.

At Loisann's Hope House, the program has been placed on hold, because the money isn't there to pay for it, Director Lisa Crittenden said.

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