HomeAid Orange County

​Caring for the Medically Fragile Homeless Children

by Paul Cho, COO/CFO and Co-Founder of the Illumination Foundation

November 15, 2017

There are currently over 4,000 children who are known to be homeless in Orange County’s healthcare system. During 2015, these homeless children made over 2,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms. Children aged 0 to 5 are among the most frequent homeless visitors to emergency rooms, making up 13%. All parents know how difficult it is to have children who are ill. Imagine the hopeless anxiety of homeless parents who are desperately trying to care for their sick children while struggling to provide a roof over their heads.

Recently, Illumination Foundation was asked to aid a grandmother who was caring for a young child who had contracted a bacterial infection from his dental procedure at Children’s Dental Group in Anaheim. The child needed surgery to prevent further deterioration of his condition, however, the surgeon was hesitant to schedule the surgery because he could not discharge the child post-surgery to a transient homeless living condition. Fortunately, our case managers and housing navigators were able to pull together the resources that connected this grandmother with permanent housing, and the child was able to have his needed surgery. This case demonstrates a critical gap in recuperative care services for medically fragile homeless children in Orange County.

Last November, we were honored to dedicate the Theriault House, HomeAid’s first project with Illumination Foundation in partnership with the Children and Families Commission of Orange County.

The Theriault House is emergency housing that is a safe place for homeless families with children aged 0 to 5 years old to recuperate after being discharged from the hospital. Families are immediately housed and receive critical assistance in caring for their sick child. In addition to medical stabilization, families will be assessed and a comprehensive plan will be developed to connect them to permanent housing through Orange County’s Coordinated Entry System.

Providing post-hospital recovery care for homeless patients discharged from hospitals across the US remains a major gap in the homeless continuum of care spectrum. Illumination Foundation’s Recuperative Care Program has been providing this invaluable safety net for hospitals throughout Southern California since 2008. With the opening of the Theriault House, we are now able to provide special care for medically fragile homeless children.

The Illumination Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to break the cycle of homelessness. We believe that we must provide the underserved and most vulnerable with client centered services, opportunities, and advocacy in order to break out of homelessness. We believe that being without a home should not prevent an individual from accessing healthcare.


Illumination Foundation operates several programs that provide people experiencing homelessness with assistance toward healthcare and housing stabilization. The formula is a simple and powerful combination of intensive medical and social case management provided in a safe place to recuperate. You can read some success stories http://www.ifrecup.org/success-stories.

Consider putting together hygiene kits to help those who are most vulnerable. All it takes is a plastic bag filled with care items such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, wash cloth, and disposable razor. Create as many as you can and drop them off at HomeAid.


HomeAid has been ending homelessness with the Illumination Foundation since 2015, through the existing renovation of a home in Stanton that will house 8 homeless families. The Illumination Foundation programs are also recipients of the HomeAid Essentials campaign and HomeAid’s Community Outreach activities.