Lessons learned from children who have experienced homelessness: What services need to know
Children who accompany their parents or guardians during a period of homelessness make up 37% (more than one in three) of all people accessing the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) services. This paper describes an Australian qualitative study that explored the experiences of children who accompanied their families during periods of homelessness. It focuses particularly on what children and young people say they want from the services that they come in contact with; particularly specialized homelessness services such as housing support services and refuges. Key themes that emerged from the research include: the need for services to engage with children as individuals in their own right, to listen to and acknowledge their stories, to have services that meet their individual needs, to act and respond when children feel unsafe and for workers who can provide support to children to talk to parents about what is going on. Children and young people wanted workers to know that they felt their parents were doing their best to keep them safe. They focused on what their parents could do and did do rather than what they were not able to provide. They called on the human service system to do the same.
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