Pilot project increases mental health care access for homeless
A 5-year program for mental health in homeless children improved access to mental health services and increased educational support, according to initial findings.
“We've learned a lot over the past 5 years,” Mary Haskett, of North Carolina State University, said in a press release. “For example, we found that by having all 11 family shelters in Wake County come together, they were better able to advocate collectively for improved community services — such as better access to Head Start, mental health providers and organizations that provide educational support. This not only helps kids and families, but has significantly boosted job satisfaction among shelter staff.”
Implemented by the Salvation Army, the Community Action Targeting Children who are Homeless, or Project CATCH, worked with 11 shelters that serve homeless families in Wake County, North Carolina.
Project CATCH works to connect homeless individuals with services for children, services to help parents support their child’s well-being and services for shelters to identify and meet needs of families with children.
The program has also helped educate researchers on the scope of mental health needs for children who experience homelessness.
In 2015, Haskett and colleagues published findings that indicated 25% of children who are homeless need mental health services.
“Project CATCH shows us that parents who are homeless want to help their children succeed, and they want the sort of support that CATCH can provide. And this is not about creating new resources — it is about helping homeless families access resources that are already available in the community,” Haskett said in the release. “Projects like CATCH are efficient, cost-effective and make a real difference for children. Over 5 years, Project CATCH has cost $121,000 annually and has helped approximately 2,000 children; Project CATCH currently serves 30 to 50 children a month.”
Researchers plan to replicate this model to help other areas of need.