Families with Children Committee: Back-to-school reports and the future of joint FWC-FHI meetings

Our Families with Children (FWC) Committee gathered in September to discuss the future of its new quarterly joint meeting with the Committee to End Homelessness’ Family Homelessness Initiative. They also reported back on the start of the new school year for the students who are homeless that they serve. Here are some brief notes from the discussion:

HOW DID START OF SCHOOL GO FOR MCKINNEY-VENTO STUDENTS?
Please be sure to e-mail rebecca[at]homelessinfo[dot]org
with your back-to-school experience(s).

  • Backlog of enrollment paperwork
    • In Seattle, had students who didn’t go the first 2 days of school because of this.
    • Others said the first two days of school had VERY fast turn-around re: paperwork, but slowed significantly after that.
  • Transportation
    • Reports of buses  being 1.5 hours late – A. Moon (Mary’s Place)
    • Reports of taxis being 2 hours late – A.Moon (Mary’s Place)
    • Case Manager said she went above and beyond to verify and confirm – multiple times – that the orders were correct. And still, these delays happened. She even had a taxi with incorrect orders and wouldn’t take the student to the correct school!
    • In West Seattle, it took one week to get a bus to pick up a student.
    • Safety concerns of younger students being assigned ORCA cards instead of a taxi or bus
    • No one reported ORCA card issues (e.g., then not being loaded)
    • Multiple people reported having concerns and questions around the 1-mile rule  (i.e., no transportation, must walk). Case Manager said that 2-mile rule for homeless families who live in Queen Anne is quite difficult. There is a much greater impact of this rule for families who are homeless
  • Proactive and flexible engagement from Liaison
    • Liaison w/ Lowel (school) came to provider to talk through McK-V and connect with families. SUPER HELPFUL
  • In class/Teacher issues
    • Parent said middle-school aged son was marked down in class because he didn’t have correct school supplies. The teacher didn’t know he was McK-V student. KS worked with Child Care Resources to get supplies, and to report to principal and work with teacher. School doesn’t seem to understand that they’re ‘on the hook’ to do better. And Jr. high and HS is very challenging because there are so many more teachers.
    • Parent shared that her other child is being pulled out of SpEd by the school. This doesn’t make sense since her child is visually impaired.
  • Agency Supports
    • Sacred Heart said things went really well. They met with families earlier than normal, and that was a big help.

CEH/FHI DISCUSSION –  future conversations, points of learning

  • Strategies
  • Shared results
  • Topics:
    • DIVERSION
    • SYSTEMS REALIGNMENT: changing of housing stock, realignment
    • DATA – there’s such a focus on quantitative, but where’s qualitative. And how do we ensure that happens? Idea for FWC to organize around this as combined we have huge amounts of rich experience w/I organizations and families served.
    • re: RRH: feels like there are high expectations, and there’s a reality of the affordability of housing. Not easy, not quick process. Landlords aren’t exactly on-tap.
    • LANDLORD ENGAGEMENT: Concerns about TANF families who have gotten housing in rental market. While no case manager wants to stop homeless families from becoming housed, we want to do everything to make sure that they aren’t “rapidly unhoused.”
    • ACCESSIBILITY OF UNITS
    • REFERRAL PROCESS: many involved in the Pilot said they have empty units, and are loosing money. Families are being referred that don’t actually qualify.
    • “BARRIER REMOVAL WITHIN SYSTEM”
    • RRH – after the pilot is over: what modifications do we suggest, and how can we work to follow up. Discussion about how and when evaluation is conducted.
    • EVALUATION: want to truly understand what this means, when it happens, what’s involved, who does it, etc.
    • OUTCOMES: “who’s the keeper of transparency in that system”
    • DEFINITION OF SUCCESS: what is the definition, who defines it, is it open to suggestion, and in what ways does it differ from our organizations’ definition of success?
  • Meeting structure: this is what the group wants to hear more about at each joint meeting, and especially the upcoming joint meeting. [ we spoke about the RRH pilot evaluation process as an example]
    • Who makes decisions
    • Who’s involved in the committees, subcommittees, participating agencies, etc.
    • Who is the audience of each of the FHI, CEH, FWC mtgs?
    • Who has influence? And to what degree?
    • Families who have voice – how does FHI reach out to them, and where can others input?
    • Clarity – generally speaking
    • Focused guiding questions are very helpful, but don’t need handouts early.
    • Comment: “Will what we say have an impact?”
    • Funders: taking a backseat would be helpful, and make sure that they are clear on focus of meeting.
    • Request for built-in structural parameters of what’s being facilitated, and who is facilitating.

In lieu of the regularly-scheduled November FWC meeting, please mark your calendars and plan to attend the November 6 community meeting on Family Coordinated Entry.

The consultants contracted to review our community’s coordinated entry for families – Katharine Gale and Kate Bristol (Focus Strategies) – will review their findings, present information on other  system models, and facilitate dialogue around key challenges. This is an open meeting for all, not just organizations who participated in the Pilot project. Your presense, comments, and feedback are important — join us!

Community Meeting on Family Coordinated Entry
Thursday, November 6, 2014 from 9 am – 12-noon
Tukwila Community Center, Banquet Room
12424 42nd Ave S., Tukwila, WA 98168
For questions and to RSVP, please contact michelle[dot]valdez[at]cehkc[dot]org

Families with Children Committee: Resources Share from the July 23 meeting

Help and support signpostOur Families with Children (FWC) Committee held a Resource Share at their July 23 meeting. Why? Because committee members bring incredible skills, experience, and knowledge to the table each time they meet. Resource shares are a good way to problem-solve and brainstorm, as well as share new (or forgotten) information.

 The Co-chairs asked that each member come to the meeting with something to share to enrich the discussion — specialized resources, handouts, contacts, websites or whatever has been helpful. Here’s what the group came up with this time around…

  1. Child Care Resources (CCR): CCR’s homeless subsidy program to cover all costs of any licensed child care provider, financial assistance program for suburban cities (including Bellevue, Renton, Kent) – these programs are designed to help families who are not eligible for DSHS services.
  2. Additionally, CCR’s information and referral line is helpful for staff and families. Call 1-800-446-1114 to speak with staff who can help families locate licensed childcare providers that meet their specific needs/criteria. They can also do a free search online (click the register button to begin a search if not already a user).
  3. City of Seattle Child Care program – this program does not currently have a waitlist; parents in school (and not working) are eligible; the program will pay for ESL classes; great long-term solution, but program only pays partial cost.
  4. Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) – Families who receive Basic Food Assistance (SNAP) are eligible for this program. It also applies to folks who attend any community or technical college in Washington State, and partners with Farestart and Goodwill programs. Even if the program runs out of money at each quarter, parents can still get assistance with childcare. Families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are ineligible for this program.
  5. Public Health – Kids Plus – Kids plus is a program that meets the unique needs of families who are referred by connecting them to a Kids plus case manager who can provide linkages to a variety of services (housing, mental health, physical health, etc. for parents and children). Staff are well connected and highly knowledgeable of available resources and services. The workers meet with families where they are at and have an ongoing relationship with the families. Contact them directly for a referral sheet that you can use to refer your families as needed.
  6. Atlantic Street Center – Atlantic Street Center offers a variety of programs. As part of The Family Center, families in Central and South Seattle can get up to 45 diapers per month per child! In addition:  The Family Center provides a multitude of free classes and services that help nurture, develop and celebrate family life. Activities include parent education classes, instruction for students learning English, preparation for the US citizenship exam, life skills classes, parent support groups for parents of all ages, physical fitness activities, and cultural events and celebrations. The Atlantic Street Family Center also offers a family support worker who counsels and aids families with challenges they may be facing. Families are encouraged to help with planning services so that the activities offered can best meet participants’ needs. Check out the Family Support page for more details.
  7. Wellspring Family Service’s Baby Boutique (requires case manager referral)
  8. Solid Ground’s Legal Assistance program – “Family Assistance provides information and referral, advice and direct legal representation to individuals who have had their state public assistance benefits (e.g., Basic Food/food stamps, Medicaid, ADATSA, TANF, Disability Lifeline) reduced, terminated or denied.”
  9. Parent Trust for Washington Children – Marni Port (Child and Teen Services Manger) is a great resource. Talk to her about child development, and stress management and relaxation training for children, teens, families, and to bring to your programs!
  10. Bellevue LifeSpring – This is a great service for Eastsiders re: rental assistance, food, basic needs, utilities, etc. Call 425.451.1175!
  11. Compass Housing Alliance’s Safe Parking Program (Road to Housing)
  12. DSHS Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance – “We provide a range of services to help refugee and immigrant families meet basic needs, find employment, take care of their children and elders, and successfully integrate into their new communities…”
  13. Sophia Latino (Hopelink) created this incredible East King County Financial Assistance List re: financial assistance, eviction prevention, and moving assistance resources.
  14. Rebecca Valderrama (HealthPoint) shared this Dental Resources list re: dental options for adults in King County. As a reminder: even though adult dental access is back in Washington, many people are unaware, or simply (and understandably!) don’t know how access services.
  15. South King County Mobile Medical and Dental Van – August Schedule. Check these good folks’ website to learn more and sign up for their e-mails. “The Mobile Medical program provides basic medical care, dental care, and social services to homeless individuals and families living in south King County. At each site a full free meal is served by the church. The program does not charge a fee and does not require insurance.”
  16. Laura Del Ragno shared a new transitional housing resource for teen parents ages 14-18 3/4 years old. Contact Laura for more info: 206.323.7409, lauradelragno@gdassociation.org
  17. StoryCorps is in town and looking for people to share their stories/experiences of family homelessness.
  18. Register for Best and Promising Practices in Faith-Based Solutions to Ending Family Homelessness – Aug. 20, 4-8 p.m. at Seattle University
  19. The highlight of the Coalition’s July General Membership Meeting was a screening and discussion of American Refugeesa short-film project of Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness and the Gates Foundation. The four animated shorts document the experience of family homelessness, and resiliency, and can be used to encourage people to challenge stereotypes of homelessness, and become more aware of the breadth and depth of this crisis.

The Families with Children committee will not meet in August as the Coalition will be hosting it’s annual Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 training that week. The next committee meeting will be on Wednesday, September 24 from 9:30-11:30 a.m.. See you then at the E. Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street, Seattle WA 98144).

Project Cool 2014 is in full swing!

Project Cool Meme 2014

The cherry blossoms are blooming, the Mariner’s had their first at-home game of the season, and the sun is finally out in full force. With all these new beginnings, it’s a natural time to start Project Cool for Back-to-School, our Coalition’s beloved backpack and supply drive to support homeless students!

Learn more about Project Cool on our website, and keep reading to find out how you can get involved over the next few months to support homeless students through Project Cool.

Ready… Set… Go!

Here are 4 ways you can get involved:

  1. Supply Drives. Now is a great time to start your own donation supply drive, and encourage others to do the same. We hope you to have fun with them — there are so many ways to be creative and think outside the box. For example, Northwest Honkers Baseball will ask their game day patrons to donate school supplies in lieu of a gate fee during summer games. Use this Project Cool Supply Drive Flyer (with Wish List). Contact me if you’d like a tailored flyer.
  2. Dental Donations. We need your help to reach out to Dentists for floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste donations. Do you have an upcoming dentist appointment, or is there a nearby dentist office in your community? Use our Dentist Letter to ask your personal or local dentist to donate to Project Cool.
  3. Sponsorship. Encourage your work, community group, bank, or faith organization to become a Project Cool Sponsor.
  4. Facebook. ‘Like’ Project Cool on Facebook, invite your friends to do the same, and share posts to boost our reach online. Your action makes a huge difference!

And be sure to mark your calendars for Volunteer Days in early July 2014. During the first two weeks of July volunteers have fun counting, sorting, and organizing supplies to fill backpacks for distribution. We’d love your help, and we welcome groups! If you’d like to help or even arrange a group, then let me know.

Thank you for all you do to support Project Cool students!