Homelessness occurs for a variety of different reasons. Economic strain, loss of jobs as well as the inability to find more work, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, and gross financial management just to name a few. It is imperative that primary prevention strategies such as information, education, and interventions be given to those persons at risk of becoming homeless. The ultimate goal is to prevent homelessness before it happens lessening the stress on the person at risk, and the limited resources available after homelessness has been obtained.
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Strategies for homelessness prevention need to be active as well as passive. Virginia has implemented the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness also known as VCEH. This coalition responds to the growing need for homelessness intervention and prevention with needs assessment and implementation. “VCEH Advocacy and educational efforts have led to the creation of the vast majority of state funded programs for homeless prevention and assistance” (VCEH, 2009). The VCEH efforts provide re-housing for those who find themselves homeless as well as strategies to prevent homelessness. The data collected by the VCEH is an opportunity to demonstrate the program’s effectiveness, and also support arguments to sustain the program with additional funding provided by the government to cover the needs of people who lose their homes.
The targeting of programs such as these become more ineffective when they take on a broader scope. The study states that people receiving the assistance are not at any lesser risk of becoming homeless, or any greater risk at becoming homeless if the intervention services were not present. “Briefly stated, poor targeting leads to an inefficient strategy and inefficient strategies are rarely effective” (VCEH, 2009). The key elements to the VCEH are as follows:
Various obstacles to the implementation of any program is financing as well as the fact that primary intervention is not focused upon as much as the situation after the person becomes homeless because need is more dire at the time. A good prevention strategy is to figure out the cause of something, and prevent it from happening (Burt, Pearson, & Montgomery, 2007). Funding is limited to these programs because focus is placed on treatments, and rehabilitation, rather than intervention because need is more imminent (Burger, & Youkeles, 2004). It only makes more sense to address a situation before it becomes a full blown problem. Is it not said that an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure?
Homelessness is preventable in some cases, in others it is not. With the economy at currently at a standstill, people losing their jobs, and being unable to find work the situation only stands to worsen. Unless something can be done about the decrease in jobs, the increase in homelessness could rise beyond anything this country has ever seen. Strain will be placed on the government, the taxpayers, and human services workers to do something about the growing epidemic of homelessness in this country. Other factors that affect homelessness are substance abuse, mental health issues, and chronic health problems (Burt, Pearson, & Montgomery, 2007). People who are unable to take care of themselves are at higher risk.
Implementing agencies to determine need, and then addressing those needs would be beneficial. Currently there are not enough programs or funding to deal with the homeless dilemma as shelters are filled to capacity and people still find themselves on the streets, or in tents along the rivers and creeks. Most of these people are the mentally ill, alcoholics, drug abusers, runaway teens, and the like, however; more and more families are joining the homeless as they find themselves being evicted from homes because they cannot pay their rent or their bills due to job loss in a poor economy (Mary, John, Gabby, & Salvidor, 2009).
The goal would be to obtain substantial funding to implement programs and resources that would help people stay on their feet, rather than deal with an emergency situation once a person, or family finds themselves homeless. The expense is far less to help a person stay in a home, and receive any help they may need, than it would be to help them start over.
Prevention is the key to reducing the homeless epidemic. Homeless shelters alone will not prevent it from happening, nor take care of the situation once it occurs. Shelters to date are filled to capacity, and overwhelmed with people needing shelter because they have found themselves out on the streets. Where there is not much to be done about the economy, and the loss of jobs across America, other issues can be addressed to prevent a person from finding themselves homeless.
When discussing prevention programs it is important to look at broad spectrum of the issue at hand. Many organizations have programs which deal with issues like homelessness, abuse, violence, and chronic diseases. However, when dealing with these types of issues, among others, and also working with people who do not speak the same language, it becomes twice fold of a problem. Although there is not a prevention strategy for language barriers, because of the nature of the issue, addressing that situation can be helpful when dealing with other issues.
Letââ‚¬â„¢s look at diabetes for example. Diabetes affects many people and is a growing epidemic; there are approximately 23 ââ‚¬” million people with diabetes in the United States (http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/). Of the 23million people with diabetes approximately 10% are of Hispanic descent. This is the second highest group with diabetes in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau approximately 23% of U.S. residents speak very little to no English, of those 28% speak Spanish.
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One of the prevention strategies for people with diabetes who speak a language other than English is to provide a service in their native language. Letââ‚¬â„¢s look at primary prevention for people with diabetes in their primary language. The service I would choose would be to provide nutritional workshops at community events, church groups and elementary schools. According to the Data City, 21% of Kane County residents speak Spanish at home, of those 14% do not speak any English at all, so I t is important to provide this prevention service in their native language, especially since this is the a group that is greatly being affected by this disease.
The workshops would provide information on what types of choices can be made to substitute the ingredients used to make the food they are use to making but in a healthy way. This will help in the prevention of diabetes, especially if it runs in the family or if someone has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.
Diabetes has been widely research and as a growing epidemic it is a concern for social service agencies as well as government. The American Journal of Public Health states in the article The Answer to Diabetes Prevention: Science, Surgery, Service Delivery, or Social Policy?, in order for this epidemic to be controlled whether it is through a government or non-government agency social policy would be key.
Some of the obstacles that could be faced with the implementation of this program can be funding, interest, and enough bilingual educators to present the workshops. Most social service agencies that provide these types of programs are non-for- profit and would need a funding source to provide this service. A solution to that would be to look for various types of grants, with a large focus on health there are many grants available through different entities. In case of a lack of interest, it would be very important to market the program, provide statistics and promote the important of hoe small changes can make such a big difference. And finally providing the service in Spanish can be challenging if there are not enough bilingual educators. Of course the first choice would be to have bilingual educators, but using a program that provides simultaneous interpretation would be a choice if there is not a bilingual educator.
The workshop would include a series of areas. First there would be glucose testing to explain the healthy ranges of glucose and to refer anyone who might have a high result to a specialized center. So this would also mean that we would have to work in collaboration with centers that provide these services in Spanish. One such center is The Center for Diabetic Wellness located at Provena Mecry Medical Center, http://www.provena.org/mercy. There will also be nutritional cooking workshops. Teaching simple things like cooking with canola oil verses corn oil or using wheat flour tortillas versus white flour tortillas, and finally a list of resources available in their area.
In conclusion, although there is not a prevention method for individuals who do not speak the English language there are many programs that definitely need the issue addressed. For those programs to be successful in providing preventative care or follow-up care it is important to have agencies that provide interpretation services. Also having programs in the native language like diabetes prevention can be very helpful in having those individuals understand the severity or prevention of illnesses.
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