These situations are far more common then you can imagine. The main problem is people are quick to judge and tell the parents that they should have the kids taken away, or that it is odd.
They were most likely trapped in a situation where jobs were lost, and they were traveling to where opportunities were, or to try to work with family and friends to rebuild. That is not always as easy as it sounds. Most people though know not to stay parked at a park after hours, hence the reason most people don't know it happens.
I know I ran into a situation over 10 years ago where we had a decent amount of money to work with and felt we had everything covered. However it did not turn out that way. The area we were living had almost no jobs as people were getting laid off right and left. Even labor ready had a lack of work that we realized in the end we had 2 options.
1. Find a place that has a good number of opportunities and work to head out there to attempt to build something
2. Stay where we were, to eventually get evicted, and try to figure out where to go when several family members were already over capacity from lost homes after the .com crash, and the only real employer in the area closing down.
So we saved and sold what we could to pay for the move and survive for a couple months while we grabbed whatever job we could to get started.
In the end, with mis-judgements, a breakdown, and other issues, we ended up arriving in CA with $200 to our name.
So we ended up sleeping in the van with the young kids, We would work with labor ready, and other odd jobs on an alternating basis. Built up until we could start to stabilize. I would really like to Thank Walmart for their large parking lots where we were able to park out by the RVs to work through the situation.
Many years later, I have a good job, the kids are doing well in school and we have a decent place to stay. We also learned a lot about how to make things work with very little.
As long as this family does not have problems with drugs and alcohol then they can be lifted up. It was nice what the Officer did and the church that donated the funds, and I hope that there was more in the background done that can help them locate longer term temporary housing so they can get jobs enough to pay the bills.
I know even to this day even though I have a decent income the rent still goes up every year, and expenses get higher, even though we live minimalistic. I do worry we may end up, being priced right out of house and home with a good paying job. The pay has gone down (although still considered higher than national average) and the rest have gone up over 30% in 3 years. It is a matter of time that more of us will be in this very situation all over again.
What does a person do when the bills and cost of living go up, yet the employers keep doing things to force the pay to stagnate or go down? I guess the real question will eventually come, what to do with the thousands of working Americans with no way to pay the bills even if they make a good income.