The repercussions of being homeless as a child younger than 6 can be lifelong, and the strain often shows in their speech, behavior, development and health, according to child-care workers and experts. They may be nonverbal, or act out. They’re often sick, but may not have a pediatrician. They may not even know how to brush their teeth. “The impact on these young children is gigantic,” said Darcy Lowell, chief executive of Child First.
Building a new emergency housing system that would accommodate the privacy needs of victims of domestic violence in Connecticut has been complicated, frustrating work. When a person who is homeless is seeking to be housed, their name, age, and other details are entered into something called the Homeless Management Information System, or HMIS. This data is then used to direct people toward appropriate housing, and it’s a big part of why Connecticut is on track to ending chronic homelessness—the most pernicious kind—by the end of the year. But the Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law in 1994, contains some strict confidentiality restrictions to protect victims of domestic violence. When a woman—and it’s usually a woman—escapes domestic violence, her first concern is safety.
On any given day, 350 advocates work to help victims of domestic violence in Connecticut. But because of shrinking funds, Connecticut has 10 less domestic violence workers this year, and most of those lost jobs were in direct services – the critical part of programs designed to meet the needs of a domestic violence victim who’s worked up the guts to call a hotline number. Those lost positions have contributed to some ugly statistics. On Sept. 17, 2013, according to the annual National Census of Domestic Violence Services, 103 requests for help went unmet because of a lack of staff, or lack of funding – which often is the same thing.