Shelter Life for Women
Traveling Toddlers’ founder can truly relate to this post, as during some challenging times in her life, she had to reside in a shelter with her children. Therefore a part of Traveling Toddlers’ vision is to provide resources and support to women and children who may have to reside in a temporary shelter. This post looks at what a woman may expect when staying at a shelter. Each shelter is different, but there are usually some basic similarities for most women shelters.
Practical tips for going into a shelter
When you are ready to leave, most shelters are free and may be able to offer you everything you will need to leave and rebuild your life.
Getting to the shelter
Think about how you may get to the shelter if transportation is not provided by the shelter. Call the shelter to see how they can assist you with developing a plan. Primarily bring essential items; as most shelters do not have space to store furniture, etc. To find out what items you should bring click HERE.
Arriving at the shelter
When you arrive you will meet with staff and complete some paperwork. After that, typically you are shown to your room and may be given clean linens and a basic needs package for you and your children (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, etc.). You may be given some time for you and your family to settle in and get to know where things are.
Meals at the shelter
Meals are typically free and include breakfast, lunch, dinner and maybe a snack for the children. If you have special dietary needs let the staff know. You may be allowed to prepare your own meals, but check with the shelter staff before cooking.
When working with your case manager/advocate/counselor, they may provide you with resources related to housing, assist with writing advocacy letter, and filling out your housing application. You may also be referred to community resources to assist you in determining other housing options.
Most shelters will offer support through the entire process, as far as applying for Legal Aid, finding a lawyer and navigating the legal system. Further, as needed, may attend court with you.
Your life at the shelter
Most shelters will assist you with goal development, but ultimately, you decide your own goals. You may continue to work or attend school, you might be focused on finding permanent housing or securing custody of your children. Whatever your goals are, most case managers/advocates/counselors will assist as needed. You don’t need to decide anything right away. You’ve made the brave decision to leave and that is the most important step.
Shelter rules and regulations
Most shelters have very clear rules and regulations, but they also understand how you may feel as the rules and regulations may appear controlling and threatening. Traveling Toddlers believe that women are the best decision makers of their own lives and we work with you to support you in achieving the goals you set for yourself. Most shelter understands that if you decide the shelter is not the best place for you and you return home, we respect your decision.
Your safety at the shelter
For most shelters, the woman’ safety is their first priority. Therefore, they do not give any information about a resident to anyone without the woman’s written consent. Most shelter’ staff and volunteers sign a Confidentiality Agreement before coming to the shelter. Traveling Toddlers truly embrace the motto of Changing Lives, Building Futures, so by providing this information the hope is that one more woman will be brave enough to leave when she is ready.
In summary, Traveling Toddlers continues to hopes that no families have to live in a shelter, but in reality this is a daily occurrence of families residing in shelters therefore it is even more important to support our families with unplanned events and traveling that may occur in their lives.