Natasha Lovato / NewsBreak Denver
(Aurora, Colo.) The GOALS program has one overarching goal— to achieve two-generational economic security for families experiencing homelessness.
The GOALS program, the Generational Opportunities to Achieve Long-term Success program, is not a homeless shelter or a rehab facility but rather a four- to nine-month structured residential program for families seeking to gain the skills and receive the resources needed achieve economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.
In 2019 the program opened on a small scale for Arapahoe residents; in 2020, GOALS moved into their current facility. GOALS will continue to expand by serving Douglas County residents in 2023.
Katherine Lawson, the Family Tree chief development officer, explained that while it continues fund-raising, the group hopes to start construction soon and open in early 2023.
"This program was created with the intent to be replicated for other counties, once this new building is built, our space will be full, but the model can be replicated should other counties wish to follow suit," Lawson said.
She added that because the program is relatively new, it doesn’t yet show definitive statistics, but that the outcome is positive, just the same.
The facility is located on the Oxford Vista campus in Aurora, which lies in the northern part of Douglas County. The Douglas County Commissioners, in partnership with the State of Colorado, Arapahoe County Government, The Family Tree, and Denver Metro Homeless Initiative, recently convened to celebrate the award of $1 million in federal funding to help the program expand to serve Douglas County residents.
The GOALS facility holds up to 20 families. It provides access to services including individualized case management, employment services, early childhood education, support for academic achievement, mental and physical health services, social network development, parenting, and family function education.
Georjette Dhliwayo, the project management administrator for Arapahoe County Human Services, explained that when a family leaves GOALS, she wants them to feel empowered, confident, and ready to take care of their children. Most importantly, they want the families to have safe and stable housing.
"One of the great things about this program is we get to stay connected and offer follow-up for up to a year after to assist them further," Dhliwayo said. "It's our promise to families in our community that this program will do what we say it will." She added that the GOALS program is the only program in Aurora serving families in a multi-generational living situation. They can help serve single fathers, single mothers, and two-parent households.
The goal for GOALS
The program seeks to move families from poverty or homelessness into economic security and stable, permanent housing, especially with the Aurora camping ban. The GOALS program works to help improve struggling Colorado families achieve intergenerational.
Intergenerational mobility refers to the relationship between the socio-economic status of parents versus the status their children will attain as adults. Put differently; mobility reflects how individuals can move up or down the social ladder compared to their parents. GOALS seeks to make the socio-economic climb obtainable for families and to help give children a hand toward success before they reach adulthood.
"I'm really glad to see there's a program in Aurora that has a vision, and a plan, and the dedication to lead families to long-term generational economic security," said Michelle Barnes, the executive director for the Colorado Department of Human Services.
According to the Arapahoe County Government, one-third of the homeless population consists of families with children. The ability to provide family stability is a critical component of allowing low-income kids the ability to have successful futures and alter intergenerational social mobility.