On Friday Mayor Mike McGinn’s office announced that Sound Mental Health has been awarded $105,500 over the next two years for behavioral health services to homeless families with young children. The money comes via an award administered by the Seattle Human Services Department, and will dole out $38,500 in 2013 and $67,000 in 2014. According to a press release from the mayor’s office, the “funding will expand a pilot project developed by the Human Services Department for early intervention services for young homeless children with moderate or severe behavioral or emotional issues related to homelessness.”
“This new funding will help homeless children who have experienced the trauma of homelessness,” says Mayor Mike McGinn in the press release. “Research has shown that children who are homeless can suffer significant emotional distress and behavioral issues related to unstable living conditions.”
As the press release notes, Solid Ground’s Broadview Transitional Housing Program in First Hill is home to the pilot project.
Here’s a description of how the cash will be used: “The new funding will provide strength-based, family-focused and trauma-informed services to an additional 14-16 children from birth to age 12 and their families. The services will include mental health assessment and therapeutic services weekly at Broadview or at the children’s schools or child care settings. For infants and toddlers, ages birth to 35 months old, parent-child therapy will be provided. Siblings will be screened for behavioral health issues and will participate in children’s groups. Sound Mental Health will also provide consultation to child care/afterschool program/school staff to address children’s behavioral support needs. Solid Ground/ Broadview will continue to provide enhanced case management and systems coordination between children and families and their housing provider, teaching/child care staff and therapeutic services.”
While any amount of new funding for homeless children and their families is something to applaud, the reality is that serving an additional 14-16 children and their families will only go so far. While researching and conducting interviews for my recent cover story on Seattle’s Center City Initiative, I heard time and time again about the growing need for services for homeless families. Increased by the Great Recession, the anecdotal consensus from many homeless people and social service providers is that services for homeless families - both single-parent and two-parent units - lags far behind the services available for single homeless people. You can find stats on the scope of homelessness in King County - and how many families are affected - here.