Norwalk, Conn. – For the first time, Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) has begun working with youth and minors experiencing homelessness.
Unfortunately, youth homelessness and housing insecurity continue to be major issues in Connecticut and Fairfield County. According to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’ (CCEH) Youth Outreach and Count, 7,823 minors and young adults ages 13-24 will experience homelessness or housing instability in 2021. According to the CCEH Youth Point-in-Time Count, the Connecticut county with the greatest number of youth struggling with housing in 2020 was Fairfield County.
With a new position in our Community Connections Program, which for more than 20 years has focused on adults experiencing homelessness, FCA is one of three leaders on a committee of experts working to develop a Coordinated Access Network (CAN) for youth and minors. This CAN will be a comprehensive system of care to ensure that Fairfield County is connecting youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability with services that meet their needs.
By improving outreach and engagement with youth in need; strengthening relationships with schools, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the juvenile justice system; and collaborating with other community outreach and drop-in centers, the CAN will build a youth-centric system of care to promote self-sufficiency and ensure that episodes of youth homelessness are rare, brief, and non-recurring.
“FCA is uniquely qualified to take on this responsibility as we have a track record of leadership in the community and bringing many voices to the table. In addition, our years of providing foster care and mental health services for youth mean we are well-suited to help oversee the system for Fairfield County,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of Family & Children’s Agency.
FCA’s own Lorraine Reid-James has filled the new position, and her prior experience as a Social Worker and Adolescent Coordinator in FCA’s Foster Care program has given her the insight and expertise to lead both FCA and Fairfield County in this effort.
“During my work in the foster care system over many years, I’ve witnessed the issue of growing youth homelessness. I’m excited to work on addressing this issue in our county and I’m hopeful that this coordinated effort can create a more stable future for our youth,” said Lorraine.