Within these programs, we provide everything from infant care to homework help to speech therapy to case management – and much more. We offer such comprehensive services because homelessness affects every aspect of a child’s being—physical, intellectual, emotional and social—and it is only by addressing all of these areas that we can begin to empower these children to succeed in life despite their circumstances.
-Early Childhood Program:
Homelessness affects children’s physical well-being in fundamental ways, leaving them hungry, tired and susceptible to illness. We offer a USDA-sponsored food service program that provides a healthy breakfast, lunch and snack for each child, each day. We also have daily nap times, which are crucial for children who often don’t get quality sleep at night.
Children experiencing homelessness are four times more likely than their peers to show delayed development, and one in six homeless children has emotional disturbances. In order to address these issues, we perform developmental screenings on all of the children we serve. For those who are assessed with delays, we provide onsite speech, occupational and/or physical therapy.
Effective early childhood programming engages children in a variety of ways. With this in mind, we offer enrichment programs such as art, music and physical development. Our children also benefit from our Nature Explore-certified outdoor classroom and our therapeutic gardens. Regular time in nature improves social and motor skills, supports creativity, reduces stress and teaches empathy—all of which can be challenging for children experiencing trauma.
Access to our early childhood programming prevents consequences of early trauma, improves developmental outcomes and ensures success in school.
-School Age Program:
We offer comprehensive, school-age programming for children in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. Our services for school-age children include Gap Camp, Kinder Camp and Summer Day Camp.
During December/January school holidays, we offer Gap Camp—child care provided when Dallas ISD schools are closed. Gap Camp provides a safe, nurturing environment for children who might not have an appropriate place to gather outside of school. In addition to fun activities, exercise and intellectual stimulation, the children attending Gap Camp also receive a healthy breakfast, lunch and a snack.
For children who have been through traumatic experiences (such as homelessness), big changes are especially challenging. In our Kinder Camp program, preschoolers learn all about “big school” and get to practice activities that might be new to them, like going through a cafeteria lunch line or carrying a backpack. Our teachers ensure the kids are academically prepared for their first day of Kindergarten.
-Parent Opportunity Center:
1:1 case management to work on personal goals and challenges
Mental health support and referrals
Access to resources for their children – clothes, diapers, shoes, toys, etc.
1:1 employment and/or education assistance
Support in navigating the process of securing housing in Dallas
Crisis intervention and problem solving
Parenting support and training
Referrals to outside resources and community partners