Alpha House of Tampa offers homeless, pregnant women and mothers with young children emergency shelter care and ongoing case management services to give them the tools they need to become self-sufficient and effective, responsible parents. Alpha House allows women and children in crisis, experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, safe housing along with an array of support services. Each mother works with her case manager to connect to community resources, develop a plan to secure permanent housing, access counseling, participate in parenting support and healthy child development, and pursue education and employment opportunities. In 2016, the agency transitioned to a best practice, evidence-based Housing First model of homeless services with funding awarded from the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative as a lead organization to pilot a Rapid Re-Housing Program. Rapid Re-Housing will shift from a transitional housing model for an up to two-year stay to permanent housing with on-going child development case management. Alpha House of Tampa case managers are using several screening tools and child- development programs as alternatives to the former Parents As Teachers model to ensure that babies are developmentally on-track and mothers receive the support they need to be successful and confident parents. The Parents As Teachers early childhood development curriculum has served as a proven model in supporting parent engagement and attentiveness, and early detection of developmental delays and other physiological disruptions that need to be addressed. The program has shown to prevent child abuse and neglect that creates lasting affects on both social, emotional and cognitive aptitudes, improving outcomes for school readiness and psychological well-being. The Alpha House program model has produced measurable outcomes in developing supportive, nurturing and stimulating connections between mother and child in the early years of life that works to counteract impairment of a child's development due to feelings of anxiety and instability, and a lack of attachment from parent relationships. Their specialized curriculum supports a parent's role in promoting school readiness and the healthy development of children with a relationship-based learning experience relevant to a child's individual needs.
Chapman Partnership provides comprehensive services to support stability and self-sufficiency for homeless families and their children with temporary housing, economic and educational opportunities that work to reduce the cycle of poverty and allows children to grow and thrive in a safe and supportive environment. Their goal for the youth development program for children living in the emergency shelter care is to expose them to positive social, learning activities that enhance their intellectual and emotional development and create fun-filled childhood memories for children who have had limited opportunities for healthy stimulation and engagement in education and special interests. Chapman Partnership operates two Homeless Assistance Centers with 800 beds located in Miami and Homestead. Collectively these two Centers serve approximately 5,000 men, women and families with children annually. Chapman assists in providing a comprehensive support program that includes emergency housing, meals, health, dental and psychiatric care, day care, job training, job placement and assistance with securing stable housing. The negative impacts of housing instability on a young person’s life can dramatically affect early development and learning, leading to course failure, retention risk and potential dropout. Often, extended lengths of homelessness and its episodic nature results in more dramatic impact. In turn, research also indicates that concrete supports (such as school supplies, transportation and academic support), as well as emotional factors (feeling safe and emotional connections) are important to a homeless child’s ability to stay in and do well in school. Chapman Partnership believes that its homeless assistance model most nurture the skills and abilities of both adults and children to truly ameliorate the cyclical nature of homelessness. High-quality programming serving disadvantaged children that provides enriching experiences has been proven to promote positive, healthy development. These experiences provide stability and daily routines that may otherwise be scarce in these children’s lives, and promote resilience. In 2017, Chapman Partnership launched the Parent Institute serving homeless mothers and fathers. The Institute will provide parent-centered programming through monthly education classes, including workshops on meeting the developmental needs of children, adverse childhood experiences and its affects, improving self-efficacy, and other topics designed to improve parenting capacities to mitigate negative outcomes. The Parent Institute is a component of the expanded trauma-informed approach. Through this approach, children are assessed based on physical, social- emotional and academic strengths and weaknesses, with a developmental milestones checklist created at intake. The checklist prioritizes areas within each of the three domains with the goal of weekly incremental improvement within at least one area during the child’s length-of-stay at Chapman Partnership.
The Me and My Family Program continues to develop, offering children of homeless families to engage in quality time with their family in after-school and holiday activities/events that will be held in conjunction with collection drives that provide clothing and personal items for each child. These include a Halloween children’s party with costume making, magician and haunted house activities for the children; a Thanksgiving children’s party that will encourage children to give thanks and participate in acts of kindness to others and learn the value of honor, respect and gratitude; a Holiday children’s party with food, games, Santa Claus and toys for each child; a Valentine’s Day craft party where children make their own valentines and bake cookies with family and mentors; and the Easter family event at Jungle Island will host an egg hunt and animal show for the children. Other activities include field trips for children and families to the Miami Zoo and Sea Aquarium and a 4-week summer camp with the Miami Children’s Museum that includes interactive exhibits and learning programs related to arts, culture, community and communication along with outdoor recreational activities on the playgrounds, rock climbing wall, water play area and in the dance and fitness program.
Covenant House Florida provides emergency shelter care and vital relief services in helping homeless, at-risk youth escape a life on the streets, combating abandonment, abuse, trafficking and exploitation. The Covenant House program model strives to combat chronic homelessness and destructive lifestyles with an array of in-house services and educational opportunities including healthcare, GED preparation, job readiness and career training, drug abuse treatment and prevention, life skills training and continuing after care. Covenant House Florida provides a safe haven for runaway and homeless teens by providing shelter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Youth show up at the shelter’s doorstep sometimes with only the clothes on their back typically bruised and hurt emotionally and/or physically. Covenant House’s caring staff take in these needy youth and provide them with nourishing meals, clean clothes and a safe place to sleep. The youth are offered a list of comprehensive services - from health services, substance abuse treatment and counseling to education and job readiness assistance - to help them either to become reunified with their families or have the skills necessary to live independently. The Family Counseling Project works to facilitate successful family reunification for youth whose home situations are identified as supportive and indications no reunification barriers such as the existence of abuse or neglect. Case managers conduct an extensive assessment process with youth and family to develop a treatment plan emphasizing individual and family strengths. Individual counseling sessions improve family functioning, identify and resolve crisis that lead to destructive behaviors and improve communications and strengthen family relationships.
Covenant House Florida offers job readiness training and life skills instruction through our Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services) program, a comprehensive program that covers education, skill building and job readiness for youth. The focus of the Youth Enrichment Services program is to create a pathway to educational opportunities by providing guidance and support in completing a high school diploma, tutoring, assistance with testing fees; skill building in creating the habits of a productive lifestyle; life skills through intensive one-on-one case management and group counseling in managing daily responsibilities, relationships, stress and pursuing interests and healthy recreation. Youth at Covenant House Florida are disadvantaged academically, socially and psychologically from a number of risk factors including trauma, instability and family discord. The Y.E.S. program offers youth the opportunity to experience academically and culturally enriching field trips and social outings that encourages self-discovery, awareness and cognitive stimulation. In addition to off-site activities, Covenant House arranges for cultural artists to come to the shelter to provide interactive and engaging performances.
Lighthouse Ministries provides faith-based emergency shelter care to aid children and families who have been the victims of domestic abuse, homelessness and severe financial hardship. Lighthouse Ministries programs offer guidance, support and stability during critical stages of growth and development and work to minimize the affects of trauma and abuse. Children fives years and younger have the opportunity to attend their on-campus community pre-school while older children attend a local public school. The Lighthouse Community Preschool serves resident children as well as those in the surrounding community providing an comprehensive early education curriculum that is a framework for cognitive, social and emotional development in a stable and supportive environment. All children in the emergency care program participate in the Lighthouse KIDCARE program that provides specialized counseling, pediatric healthcare, case management and academic assistance to overcome developmental delays due to stress, inconsistency, and inadequate nurturance and stimulation. Lighthouse KIDcare provides counseling, case management, academic tutoring and training, and peer interaction. The Hobbs Foundation Kids Technology Center gives children the opportunity to learn computer skills, complete their homework, receive additional tutoring, and participate in group learning activities.
Lighthouse Ministries seeks funding to refurbish and enhance their children’s playground and outdoor recreational space, as part of Lighthouse KidCare Program, that gives resident children a safe, inviting space that inspires a passion for learning, creative and stimulating play, and engaging social interaction with family, mentors and peers. The children’s recreation center allows for live educational demonstrations, hands-on learning projects, and interest-based extracurricular activities that work to promote academic success, reduce anxiety and encourage at-risk children to develop healthy social skills, self-confidence, and engage in structured, experiential learning that reduces impulse behavior and boosts academic performance. The outdoor playground located on the on-site community preschool serves young children of homeless and at-risk families that works to care for the physical, emotional and developmental needs of children who have experienced poverty and instability. Funding supports the updating and replacement of playground equipment and sun shade, clean-up and installation, and a new storage space for children’s bicycles and toys.
Metropolitan Ministries provides emergency shelter care to children and families who have been victims of homelessness and severe financial hardship with comprehensive programming that aims to alleviate suffering, promote dignity and instill self-sufficiency. Metropolitan Ministries provides temporary shelter, meals, clothing, education and counseling services to bring wealth of resources to families in need. MM has grown from a small emergency homeless shelter to a full service social services agency serving the needs of homeless and at-risk families. In the last year, MM has served 461 families in our Uplift U® and Hope Hall Emergency Shelter housing programs and 31,052 families in Outreach. The PromiseLand Childcare Center and Partnership School provides education and socio-cognitive development services for children of homeless families with small class sizes, individualized tutoring and a targeted development plan to suit each child’s unique needs along with constructive afterschool activities and summer programs. MM serves homeless children and their families living in MM’s on-site and off-site housing units. The following programs are provided to children 0-12 on campus: early childhood education, early head start and head start (through partnerships), a Hillsborough Co. Partnership School serving grades K-5, and an Out of School Time program (after school and summer). Last year 368 students were provided supportive educational services through our PromiseLand Early Childhood Education program. As part of the program, several assessments and tools are used to track children’s needs, including the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) Assessment and Galileo assessments. Results of these measures showed many children deficient in problem solving, fine motor skills and some limitations in gross motor skills. Much evidence suggests that exposure to trauma at an early age specifically impacts the development of executive function in young children. With the amount of trauma experienced by the homeless children we serve, it is not surprising that challenges in executive function are the result of these experiences. Through the therapeutic resource program we have learned more about the development of executive function and the effects of trauma in child development; such as problem solving skills, communication, impulse control and overall school readiness skills.
Metropolitan Ministries’ PromiseLand Therapeutic program will evaluate the executive function needs of the children in their care using the NIH Tool Box Flanker Inhibitory and Control Attention Test and the Hearts and Flowers Assessment to establish a baseline and select, and develop curriculum to address the deficiencies. The goal of the PromiseLand Therapeutic program is to build on the knowledge obtained in the past few years as MM has incorporated evidence-based practices and to improve executive function and reading in the children they serve. Activities will be developed to address problem solving skills and executive function. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, "homeless children experience a high rate of acute and chronic health problems. The constant barrage of stressful and traumatic experiences also has profound effects on their development and ability to learn." MM has initiated the Sanctuary Model of Trauma Informed Care throughout all programs to address these challenges of the homeless children they serve. Funding supports materials, curriculum as well as educational tools and games to accompany the PromiseLand Early Education and Afterschool Program for children ages 0-12.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay provides a home-away-from-home for families with children receiving medical treatment in bay area hospitals and allows parents and guardians to stay in close proximity to provide comfort and loving care to their child during a critical time of need. Each year, 2,000 families stay at one of our four houses for the comfort, care, and support while being close to their child’s bedside. In 2015, we served 41 families of pediatric bone marrow transplant (BMT) patients who stayed at our St. Pete West Ronald McDonald House in partnership with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. These children require special precautions to minimize the risk of infections and illnesses that could jeopardize their health post- transplant. Extended hospital stays often cause financial stress as parents take long absences from work and travel back and forth. Without a place to stay that accommodates their special set of needs, these families would be putting their child in harm’s way and would find themselves in deeper financial difficulties by staying at a nearby hotel. The Ronald McDonald House removes this burden for low-income BMT families.
This year, through July, Ronald McDonald House West has already served 32 BMT families who have stayed 663 nights. RMH projections for the second half of the year will show a corresponding increase, thereby continuously increasing the total number of BMT families and night stays through 2016 and 2017. Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay is requesting a grant-funds from the Hobbs Foundation to supplement the cost of 125 bone marrow transplant family night stays. The average stay per night across all Tampa Bay Ronald McDonald Houses is $80, however, for these families the cost to accommodate the special needs of their children will pose challenges to the organization’s operating budget. Funding supports accommodation and support services for an additional 1,750 families in 2018.