Millions of children experience homelessness every year. According to the National Mental Health Association, on any given night, 1.2 million children are homeless. These numbers are just astounding to me.

The experience of homelessness affects the physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development of children. On the average, manyhomeless children have attended two or more schools in a one-year period. Almost half of homeless children have anxiety, depression, or withdrawal. More than one in three homeless children manifest delinquent and aggressive behavior. Homeless children tend to have very low self-esteem. Often, they don’t have adequate food or nutrition, reliable transportation, necessary immunizations or immunization records, appropriate clothing, or school supplies. Many children who grow up homeless are likely to repeat the lifestyle with their own children.

Statistics show that every two minutes a child becomes homeless in America. No child should have to live in a shelter. They fear their friends will find out they are in a shelter and treat them differently. Some have a difficult time in school because of housing instability.

Culpeper Housing and Shelter Services (CHASS) operates a 15-bed homeless family shelter in Culpeper, VA. Not only do we provide emergency shelter, but we help the literally homeless individuals and families find and move into permanent stable housing thru our Rapid Re-housing Program. Our goal is to get them from shelter to housing in 30 days or less. This is not always possible, but it is our goal.

I would like to share part of a letter I received from a client recently. She is a single mother with four children. She came to CHASS homeless with nowhere to go. We were able to put her and her children into housing where they have since thrived. The children are honor students and have won many awards at school. The mom still struggles every month with bills as she can never be sure of her child support, yet she works two jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over her family’s head.

“As their mother I am over the moon but the key to our family and its success has been this home!! Being stable and safe are two of the most important gifts I can provide for my family. CHASS has changed our lives forever. I am thankful EVERYDAY for this home!! Without the support and amazing staff of CHASS I don’t know where we would be! Thank each and everyone of you! You change lives, you give hope and I will always be FOREVER Grateful. Thank you”

Another mother wrote:

“Stability is one the most important gifts you can give your child- everything begins at home. CHASS has afforded my family the stability to succeed. They provide more than housing – open hearts, listening ears, and a sense of hope. The people they assist and the positive changes they make in lives is a true blessing. This program was a life saver for me and my family. Culpeper is certainly a better place with the services CHASS provides.”

Cheryl S. Carter, Executive Director – CHASS CHASS is part of the Foothills Housing Network that provides shelter and housing services to those in need in Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock, Orange, and Madison counties.

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