Let’s ask the public schools! Every year, Albany County School District 1 identifies students in our county who are classified as homeless. For each of the past several years, Lisa Theis, ACSD1 liason, has asserted that around 50 students lack stable housing. She believes there are more who are not counted. This number excludes Laramie children who are younger than school-age. Based on national trends, we estimate that on any given night at least 100 children in our county are considered homeless.
If there are homeless children in Laramie, why don’t we see them? These young people are not likely to be found sleeping in a downtown doorway or huddled against the Laramie Train Depot. Instead, they are apt to be in the category of sheltered homeless individuals. They have a place to sleep inside. This could be a neighbor’s couch or a relative’s floor, and may change from one day or week to the next. This couch-surfing exposes children to a variety of risks. Sometimes, families are also broken up to minimize the burden on each household. In other scenarios, families may choose to camp up in Vedauwoo or sleep in their cars rather than look for space in someone else’s home.
Research shows that children who grow up in unstable living situations are more likely to drop out of school; enter foster care; be chronically homeless; and experience domestic violence, chronic unemployment and incarceration.
With no established shelter in Laramie and no resources specifically devoted to assisting people in homeless situations, there is a great need for services for these families! Family Promise of Albany County ensures that families can stay together and enjoy safe shelter and adequate food while the guardians receive full services and resources to ultimately achieve independence and permanent housing.
Photo credit:Janko Ferlič