Kaleidoscope Places

Families Together

Background

For nearly 40 years, local homeless families with children have turned to Families Together for critical housing support. The agency provides transitional housing, basic needs, life skills, case management, rental assistance and other supports. Nearly half of the individuals in the families served are children under the age of 12. Nearly 90% are African American and 100% are homeless with no stable roof overhead. Approximately 25% of the women are escaping the physical and psychological harm of a domestic violence situation. All grapple with the psychological and emotional trauma of homelessness. Most of the families are headed by a single woman.

Children in families experiencing homelessness are four times more likely to get sick and three times more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems. In 83% of cases, children with no home are exposed to at least one serious violent incident, compounding the psychological trauma of homelessness and potentially causing physical harm as well.

The Project at a Glance

1. Play kits for children to use while parents talk with counselors

2. Apartment balcony improvements

3. Renovated outdoor spaces

Partners

• Families Together

• The Kaleidoscope Project

The Project

The primary goal of the partnership with The Kaleidoscope Project is to nurture children’s mental, social and emotional health by:

• Increasing safety

• Improving family quality time

• Supporting children while parents are navigating solutions to homelessness

The temporary apartments for families are in a remote area, and there were concerns about people walking onto the property because the property lines were not well defined. This was especially the case on the front side and the right side of the property.

The outdoor play space had a lot of opportunity for relationship building but needed a few adjustments to really maximize its potential. The space included a concrete pad that was too small for basketball and ride on toys. Families Together staff expressed that a larger space would provide more opportunities for parents to engage with their children.

Families Together staff also expressed the need for more space for kiddos to play during rainy days and during everyday household tasks, such as cooking. Space within the apartments are limited, making it sometimes difficult for families to spend time together indoors and for children to play while parents take care of everyday tasks.

A valuable component of Family Promise’s services is the one-on-one support that is provides to the parents. The meetings with Family Promise staff to orient families to the program or to work through solutions to serious problems can be challenging for the children that regularly have to sit in the office, listening to, often times, difficult conversations.

Best Practices

Build Positive Relationships:

In order to create more opportunities for families to engage with one another, the concrete pad was doubled in size. The new size allowed for more activities, such as basketball, small sized ride on toys, chalk play, and more! Families now have more opportunities to spend quality time together, strengthening relationships.

Use Nature to Nurture:

Cedar tree stumps were installed and anchored in a circle in a natural space on the property. The stump circle provides a place to encourage outdoor play and provide a place for family relationship building in a more natural setting.

The existing garden needed a better location to ensure the growth of the veggies. The Kaleidoscope Project provided the materials to build new beds so that the garden could be properly moved and residents could continue to use the veggies.

Create Diverse Spaces and Activities:

A great opportunity for improvement was to develop spaces for children to play close by when parents were taking care of household chores, as the apartments are not very large. The balconies of each apartment unit were given a makeover to include child sized tables and chairs, benches for parents and children to sit with toy storage underneath, outdoor carpets to create a softer play area, and outdoor wooden building blocks and art easels for play.

Foster Safety and Support:

There were concerns about access to the property by the neighboring area. The addition of a fence more clearly identified the property line and helped to discourage foot traffic, providing the parents and children with a sense of greater safety.

Five Play Kits were developed to be used during meetings when children are present and for families to check out for use in their apartments.

Enhance Accessibility and Inclusion:

A new concrete path was installed to ensure accessibility to the concrete pad. This made it easier for parents with strollers and individuals with mobility devises to enjoy the pad.