Local News

Salvation Army project eases trauma of homelessness for kids

Posted August 17

Wake County has the highest median household income in North Carolina, according to census data.

Wake County has the highest median household income in North Carolina, according to census data.

The county also has at least 5,000 children experiencing homelessness, but a local program is trying to give those kids the unique care they need.

The playroom at the Salvation Army is a lot of fun for Stephanie Gibson's children. The past four years have been tough for the Gibson family, though.

Gibson says a bedbug problem forced them out of their apartment, and they never recovered.

"I've lived with family members. We lived with friends. I lived in a hotel," Gibson said.

Most recently, she lived at a shelter in Raleigh.

Gibson's daughters' school counselors referred them to the {{a hreaf="external_link-1}}Salvation Army's Project CATCH{{/a}}, a program to help children experiencing homelessness. Program coordinator Jennifer Tisdale says homeless children face unique challenges.

"The trauma of homelessness that is on those young children in those early developing years is really significant," Tisdale said.

Project CATCH helps families meet basic needs, and then the children get special attention focused on education and mental health.

Tisdale hopes Project CATCH gives children in traumatic situations some peace of mind and let's them know they're not alone.

Thanks to some help from a local group called Families Together, Gibson and her children just moved into a new home. Gibson says if it wasn't for Project CATCH, she isn't sure where her family would be.

She's grateful that their long journey brought them to stable ground.

"Just to see the smile on my kid's faces," Gibson said. "I'm trying not to cry."

Project CATCH had more than 660 referrals last year from local shelters, which is double the number from the previous year.


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