Family Shelter System

“Emergency shelters play a critical role in efforts to end homelessness. They provide people with a safe place to stay and help them quickly return to housing.”

– National Alliance to End Homelessness

Role of Family Shelter in the Crisis Response System

Shelter is an essential component of the Orange County crisis response system for families, but it does not work alone or address all aspects of family homelessness. In order to perform the key roles of shelter and ensure that there is coordination with other parts of the system, the Shared Family Shelter Guidelines Committee and FSC Executive Committee, in conjunction with an extensive family shelter evaluation conducted in 2018, with the support of First 5 Orange County and HomeAid OC, published these guidelines to ensure the leading best-practices are brought in for the Family Shelters. Through the evaluation process we defined the role of shelter to be primarily and most importantly:

  1. To provide a safe, temporary place for families with children to be safe, get out of the elements and have basic needs met who would otherwise have no alternative but to sleep outside, in a car, a place not meant for human habitation or to remain in an unsafe housing environment;
  2. To help families as quickly as possible by not putting up unnecessary barriers that keep families in need from entering shelter;
  3. To serve as one of the potential entry points into the broader crisis response system designed to help end a family’s homelessness;
  4. To work with the family, and with other aspects of the system as needed and available, to help as many families as possible obtain a safe, permanent place to live.

Shared Family Shelter Guidelines

In January of 2020, the FSC published the Shared Family Shelter Guidelines, as a result of an in-depth evaluation of family shelters (Emergency and Transitional) in Orange County. This endeavor was supported by First 5 Children and Families Commission. This Guide was prepared through a multi-agency collaborative process convened by the Family Solutions Collaborative.

Purpose of Family Shelter Guidelines

This document provides shared guidelines, policies and practices that apply to all participating family-serving shelters in Orange County, CA. It covers shared guiding principles, areas of common approach and intended family experience while in shelter, and the way that shelter is connected to the rest of the family crisis response system. The purpose of adopting these shared guidelines was to ensure that regardless of which participating shelter a family is referred to, they have a similar low-barrier entry experience, clear expectations for what support they will receive and what is expected of them, and an opportunity to achieve similar outcomes.

The Shared Guiding Principles include:

  • Rapid Reentry
  • Low Barrier Access
  • Housing First
  • Exit to Permanent Housing
  • Trauma-Informed Care
  • Best-Practice Informed and Adaptive
  • Client-Centered Programming

Annual Peer Reviews occur with the Shelter to review the outcomes set forth in the Guidelines and to share opportunities and challenges with each other.

The Family Shelters that have committed to these Guidelines and serve as the FSC Family Shelters

Family Solutions Collaborative Participating Shelters