For children experiencing homelessness, the shelter system and transitional periods can be tolling and often lonely. The Girl Scouts are combating this with Troop 6000, which helps young girls in the New York City Shelter System to learn life skills while also creating networks of support and aid during their transition out of the shelter.
Families within the shelter system often feel isolated and lack support within their community. By the end of 2021, 48,691 individuals were staying within the primary municipal shelter system in New York City. Of those individuals, 15,227 of them are children. These children and families have limited access to community engagement. Even when they leave the shelters for permanent housing, the transition can be difficult, and they often struggle to find stability.
The Girl Scouts are working to provide young girls experiencing homelessness a place of community and belonging through Troop 6000. This troop consists entirely of girls within the New York City Shelter System. Each week, troop leaders visit shelters across the city and meet with the members to develop skills and earn badges. The troop leaders are typically women who are also involved with the shelter system. The girls develop their skills in various areas, including STEM, financial literacy, environmental protection, civic engagement, and community service.
Girl Scouts Troop 6000 not only teaches young girls essential life skills but also its members are exposed to a community of others and are provided support. The girls can create a network of individuals, often with similar experiences, to help combat the isolation many of those experiencing homelessness struggle with. Having the ability to meet weekly also gives the girls a sense of consistency during a time where very little is constant.
When a family involved with Girl Scouts Troop 6000 moves from a shelter into permanent housing, it is essential to keep this consistency and community during a time filled with change. It is for this reason the Girl Scouts have implemented a Transitional Programming Initiative in order to maintain the girls’ involvement with Girl Scouts. The program also provides families with financial support, which allows the girls and parents to continue learning, connecting with others, and having fun with peers.
The Girl Scouts have conducted research that indicates that their alumni have shown more significant outcomes in areas such as their sense of self, community work, civic engagement, education, and future income. Access to clubs and activities like the Girl Scouts can have positive impacts on a child that will last their lifetime. Making efforts to ensure these resources are available to children experiencing homelessness can bring a community of support to their side and brightness to their week.