What we do at COTS
COTS does much more than shelter and feed people who are homeless. We provide a wide range of services that enable individuals and families to break the cycle of homelessness once and for all.
We also prevent homelessness by helping people in our community keep the homes they already have.
For children and adults who are experiencing homelessness, our mission is to provide the support they need to transform their lives and get back under a roof of their own. We do this by addressing the underlying causes of homelessness: stabilizing and addressing basic needs; providing case management and counseling; and teaching the practical life skills necessary to obtain income and housing.
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Homelessness
Is it possible for a homeless services agency to help people who have suffered profound injury and trauma, and who appear to be chronically maladjusted to life?
Research illuminates why some people bounce back from adversity, abuse, and tragedy, demonstrating that a person’s resiliency is fostered and strengthened when she or he is given:
- A personal connection with someone who believes in him/her
- A sense that others have high expectations of him/her
- Opportunities to make choices – to be the architect of his/her own life
Studies show that adverse childhood experiences ("ACEs"), such as severe abuse and neglect, are strong predictors of homelessness because they have a long-term negative impact on physical and mental health. Therefore, programs at COTS are “ACE-informed.” COTS staff are trained not only to understand the role of ACEs, but also to articulate the values and principles that make healing possible, and in which all our programs are grounded.
Each COTS program addresses the effects of specific ACEs on adult clients, and builds on clients’ desires to avoid creating a new cycle of ACEs for their children. ACEs are not accepted as an excuse to justify anti-social behavior or poor life outcomes, but rather are explicitly recognized in a way that helps clients understand their suffering and chronic bad experiences, so that they may move past them into a healthier future.
Kids First parenting skills training, relationship skills training, anger management, explicatory narrative development, case management, support groups, motivational interviewing and the Four Agreements seminars are examples of COTS programs and practices that incorporate ACE research and help clients to successfully rebuild their lives.
Four Pillars of Success
COTS creates an environment where people whose lives have been shattered are able to find hope again
Connection - Supportive and healthy relationships that prove reliable over time provide a foundation for people to develop hope. Our personal connection with clients gives us the credibility to show them that we know how to help them, and that others in their situation have succeeded.
Hope - When a life has been shattered by abuse, accident, bad choices, or a combination of these, a person can feel hopeless. Without hope, there is no incentive to try to improve one’s circumstances. We help program participants rebuild their sense of hope with small changes that lead to bigger changes. In this way, we demonstrate that hope is rational.
Commitment - Commitment is the key to progress. Once there is hope for the possibility of a better life, COTS program participants are able to make commitments and set goals.
Integrity - Once connections are made, a sense of hope restored, and commitments made, the COTS team holds each program participant—and our staff—accountable for taking actions in accord with their goals and dreams. Each success restores the program participant’s personal integrity and sense of control over his or her life, leading to bigger goals and more successes.