The Greater Seattle area is facing a major homelessness crisis, and those affected face hardships beyond finding shelter. While getting people off the street is the main goal, the root causes that led to homelessness for an individual or family are often overlooked - leading to a cycle that could undo progress previously made towards a stable living situation.
There are thousands of children and their families living without a home in the Greater Seattle Area, but are not the first group to come to mind when the general public thinks of the homeless population. "Family homelessness is so much less visible in our daily lives," says Dr. Megan Beers of Wellspring Family Services. "Families are sometimes in cars, sometimes in tent cities, but often also doubling up with friends and family as they can or in shelters, really anywhere they can be." Each family facing this challenge has their own story, as there are multiple different factors that could uproot a family from their home. "Instances of domestic violence is one of the leading causes of family homelessness. Struggles around mental health, and other struggles in the family that can impact. For example, a parent with a job. If you've got a child who's really struggling in school, that's pulling the parent away from their job. They're just a paycheck away from homelessness."
The effects of homelessness can linger long after a family is off the streets. Trauma caused by the experience of being homeless and the instability that accompanies their situation can negatively impact children, making it difficult to fully focus on their schooling. The root cause behind a family losing their home must also be identified and solved with continuous support to ensure they can foster a stable living environment once finding a home. "We're really focused on what do we need to do to break the cycle of homelessness, not only for families right now, but in the next generation moving forward," explains Dr. Beers. Encouraging parents to strengthen relationships with their children and making sure those children are fully supported in school are just two keys to success when rebuilding a solid foundation.
Wellspring Family Services aims to support the overwhelming number of children and families facing homelessness by working to find long lasting solutions for each family's unique situation. Their current efforts include providing homeless children the supplies they need to successfully start school in the fall, easing the burden placed upon families during back to school shopping season. Even attending public school can be costly, as the average cost for elementary school supplies is $93 per child. By assisting families obtain basic needs during their transition out of homelessness, they can begin to work on their future with a little more peace of mind.
Anyone can help Wellspring give these kids a great start to their school year by going to their website and making a monetary donation, or by donating school supplies. Supplies can be dropped off at their office, located at 1900 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle.
This segment on Wellspring Family Services brought to you by Premera as part of KING 5 Konnected. Watch New Day Northwest 11:00 weekdays on KING-TV Ch.5 or streaming live on KING5.com. Connect with New Day via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.