Below you will find a general timeline of what families go through from their first contact to when they leave. Please keep in mind that every family’s situation is very different from beginning to end, and that this timeline is only addressing the basic needs, not all the needs of most families.

BubblesPhone Screening / Initial Contact: When families call, their needs and how they’d fit into our program are immediately discussed. This is accomplished through conversation, honesty, and different techniques so the families feel supported and informed, no matter their placement in our program, we try to learn the full perspective of the family’s situation. If the family fits well into our program, if there’s an opening, and if the family wants to join our program, an in-person appointment is made as soon as possible.

In-Person Appointment: At this point the families meet the case manager and get to know each other. More details about their situation and our program are shared and, if all goes well, an intake happens immediately upon interest from the family or an intake is scheduled ASAP.

Intake: During intake we go through all the paperwork, take a tour of the day center, and gather up any toiletries, bedding, diapers, etc. the families may need at the hosting church. Once all this has been accomplished, the family is able to settle in, meet other guests and staff, and familiarize themselves with their new, temporary life at the Day Center. Despite all the details and information they are given about what happens at the churches as far as sleeping accommodations, meals, and volunteers, this is when families tend to grow nervous and hesitant about the upcoming “night at the church”/the unknown/the strangers they’ll be meeting and are vulnerable to until morning. If possible, a staff member or van driver will accompany the new family into the church to provide more comfort and help.

Week One: This is usually referred to as the “go-to” week, where families and case manager are addressing all the immediate needs: establishing or re-establishing any form of benefits or income, addressing schooling and transportation, meeting health concerns, developing resumes and cover letters, applying for work, scheduling appointments, getting on lists for transitional housing programs and general housing, etc.

Week Two: Continuation of week one with the beginnings of in-depth, one on one advocacy from the case manager, addressing the emotional or relationship issues, discomforts within our program, coping strategies, parenting issues, lack of community and support, etc. Sometimes appointments that were made the week before are scheduled for this week, but usually not. Most appointments aren’t set for two to three weeks.

BedtimeWeek Three: This is the real “hunker down” week, where the immediate needs have been met or are scheduled to be met at the available day and time, so each family focuses all their energy now on what they need the most: work, saving money, apartment, and (re)addressing issues from the one-on-ones with the case manager.

Week Four: This is the “Lull Week”, where all the steadfast progress and efforts that were made are starting to slow down. Motivation starts declining as families begin to realize that no matter the efforts, there’s only so much an organization and an individual can do as far as finding work and an apartment. Since it takes now an average of 3-6 weeks for employers to even process applications (read and process as official applicants), most families have heard absolutely nothing back from anywhere they’ve applied, leaving them to feeling hopeless. Case management is mostly addressing the emotional and coping needs of the families at this point to help them make it through one of the toughest times in our program: the lack of results from efforts, the end of their 30 days, and the realization that what they need more than anything is time and someone to give them a chance.

Week Five and On: Case management and families continue their efforts in all respects, adjusting as needed to the times and necessities of things required outside our control. Families usually have bonded a lot by now and count on each other and case management for information and uplifting conversations or fun while they play the waiting game. Never once do families or case management stop or lessen their efforts, they continue, but their emotional needs heighten or those that were hidden or avoided now arise, requiring intensive crisis intervention and emotional support.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. As mentioned above, it takes now an average of 3-6 weeks for an application to even be processed and even longer for it to be reviewed or an interview to be scheduled. Recent statistics have also shown that for the long-term unemployed, it takes approximately 40 weeks to find employment, mostly temporary or part-time.

  2. For families to access services from most agencies or apply for work or housing, photo IDs, social security cards, and birth certificates are usually required. If a family’s identifications have been lost or stolen, it usually takes 2-4 months to receive replacements. (This is a common challenge for our guests.)

  3. Every transitional shelter in Salem is beyond capacity and waiting lists are the longest they’ve been in years. The need for shelter and work is exponentially greater than the actual services and places available. To simply access regular housing, the wait is 2-3 years and any transitional shelter program takes 4-6 months to get into. This is in part, because the duration of shelter stay for every shelter lasts longer than ever before, making openings less frequent. Families can’t find work, resources and funding are far lower than ever, and landlords are making it harder and harder to get into apartments.


1055 Edgewater St NW
Salem, OR 97304