Children who are homeless face a 'double trauma' of firstly losing their home and then the impact of being in the homeless system, according to a report by Focus Ireland.
The report suggests that agencies working with families need to adopt a "trauma-informed approach".
Niamh Lambe, project manager of Focus Ireland's family action team, said more child support workers are needed to ensure those homeless now do not become homeless again when they grow up.
The report,is based on research by Rikke Siersbaek and Camille Loftus.
It says "homelessness is rarely the manifestation of only one crisis, but the accumulation of a series of crises — the loss of home and friends, unemployment, the disruption of education, and fundamentally, the loss of the sense of safety and security that home provides".
The report says the impact of homelessness in children includes their health and wellbeing, their education, family relationships, and their connections with the community.
It says some children may have already experienced an adverse childhood event or some other form of trauma, which homelessness can exacerbate.
"A family-centred, trauma-informed approach is where a service provider understands what childhood trauma is, recognises its symptoms in a family, and responds by integrating that knowledge into treatment that can set a family and their children on a path to recovery," it says.
Among the recommendations is for a case management approach in which every family that is homeless has a designated case manager with an appropriate caseload to support their exit from homelessness and assist them in negotiating the challenges of homelessness itself.
Ms Lambe, a psychotherapist, said the report is "spot on" and that there are fears that when measures introduced to limit homelessness due to the pandemic are lifted, there could be another rise in the number of families entering emergency accommodation.
Ms Lambe's team has five child support workers to support families while Focus Ireland's family centre — which does not receive funding — assists others as a drop-in service.
"We are not trying to take the place of mental health services, we are just trying to reduce the impact on the children when they are in homelessness. That's where the child support workers come in," she said.
Ms Lambe said there is a "deficit of supports" for children in emergency accommodation and added: "Rebuilding Ireland has not reached all its goals and these children can be future homeless if we don't break that link."
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