A child’s experience of homelessness is distinctly different to adults, and it’s vital that a child’s voice is heard, not only throughout their life, but particularly when experiencing homelessness.
At Launch Housing’s Dandenong office, support workers are actively engaged with children and their parents. They work to ensure children feel safe, secure and are well connected to needed supports by providing assessments, case management, group work and links to healthcare services.
“Recognition of a child’s story, experience and support needs is imperative in relation to a child’s world. By providing a child experiencing homelessness with their own worker it allows them a safe space, acknowledgement, strategies and tools to be able to live their best life.” – Natalie Lewis, Children Support Worker at Dandenong.
Launch Housing’s Dandenong (Bob’s Place) crisis accommodation site offers families, couples and singles in a housing crisis short stays, intensive case management, a children’s program, transitional housing, and advocacy services.
The Children’s Program offers children experience homelessness assessments, case management, and group work to support children’s emotional, and physical wellbeing and improve educational outcomes.
Working closely with the Case Management Team, the Children’s Support Worker helps staff to build skills and capacity when supporting children and their caregivers.
Nature Therapy for Families in Crisis
Launch Housing Dandenong’s Nature Therapy Program offers children a way to connect with nature, improve mental and physical health and increase social connectedness.
The Nature Therapy Program is an additional part of the group work component of the Children’s Program. It’s flexible, and is offered to children at Dandenong when needed.
This therapeutic program connects children and parents to nature, with group work sessions that may incorporate excursions, or be based around nature activities such as planting a veggie garden at the crisis centre.
Nature therapy sessions are held in various environments and can include bush walks in Dandenong and seaside visits.
“It’s important to stay connected to nature for positive mental and physical health. It’s a tool that is free, accessible and gives children a way to connect with community. There are some kids in this program who have never been to the beach.” –Natalie Lewis, Children Support Worker at Dandenong.
Eco-therapy – The power of nature
There are many benefits to eco-therapy programs, like our Nature Therapy Program, including improved mental and physical health, relaxation, and social confidence. Some other benefits include:
- Increased creativity, imagination and problem solving skills
- Teaches ability to self-regulate
- Strengthens connection with nature
- Helps with practising mindfulness
- Enhances cognitive abilities including a child’s ability to focus
Children and Homelessness
It’s challenging for families to find housing, maintain health, education and manage medical needs when experiencing homelessness. An experience of homelessness is highly destabilising, and traumatising and can make children feel unsafe, sad, and angry. Research into families and homelessness has revealed many detrimental effects on a child’s health, and education.
That’s why therapeutic programs are significant to improving the well-being of children in crisis accommodation.
Learn more about children and homelessness in Australia.