“ Some really good practices for working with young families in shelter”

Through shelter visits feedback from trainings and staff and family interview, we’ve learned about some very interesting and creative ways shelter providers are promoting healthy minds, souls and bodies.  Some have incentives for completing goals others promote healthy parent/child attachment by providing reading time for moms and children.  I’ve compiled a list of what some programs are doing with their families.


  • Project Hope- Family reading room- This program has a part-time staff to work with young parents and their children to promote family reading time. Parents are recognized and rewarded for the amount of time and the number of books they read with their children.
  • Crittenton and Project Hope have on-site Adult Basic Education classes; residents in the shelter have priority although they have to go through the same enrollment and process as the general public. This is significant since there are usually long waitlists and limited slots for G.E.D. classes.
  • Revision House has the Urban Garden- Families not only learn about gardening, they also learn about Nutrition and healthy food choices. This practice recognizes the benefits of introducing Protective Factors that promote healthy nutrition. They reported that the program has impacted nutrition choices and promoted peer-to-peer supports. Families are sharing recipes and those with experience preparing fresh meals are partnering with other less experienced.
  • Heading Home Congregate has a program called “Up and Out”. When a family finds permanent housing and is moving out of this shelter, volunteers and staff do a complete makeover on the apartment; they focus on the children’s bedroom, providing theme decorations, some examples given were a Dora the Explorer room for a 4-year-old girl.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney House has instituted “Resident of The Month” where they are recognizing a resident each month that are meeting goals and rewarding her with a gift card and a curfew extension for one night.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney House also provided voter education workshops for their residents and provided transportation to and from the voting polls for the Presidential election this month.
  • Phoenix House used funding from HomeBASE to house a family by matching a family with earned income with a developer with tax credit apartments. The family was able to use the funds to subsidize rental payments.
  • Phoenix House encourages peer-to-peer support by having residents facilitate housing search meetings. At the weekly meetings, the residents are responsible for sharing information with the other residents, regarding housing opportunities learned over the week.
  • CTI-Merrimack House is promoting choice and autonomy by allowing families to pick their chores at the weekly house meeting. A resident has buy-in and is more willing to do a chore of their choice. 

The Word on the Street/ YP Providers are Talking!

I am getting some really good feedback from providers. I seems as thought this whole understanding the neurodevelopment of young parents has some substance. Providers are emailing me  to tell me about the “aha” moments that they’ve had since returning from the training. One provider wrote, “The training was really helpful to me. I had about 4 different residents escalate in the community and the training gave such an awareness to me to think beyond the words.  I have learned so much more about each one of the ladies by not reacting or trying to control them and just listen.”  

One Young Parent Provider was very excited about sharing this information with staff and has already began passing it on to staff. This program is devoting 20 minutes of each staff meeting to teach staff about brain attachment, protective factors etc.  lastly, another good practice! This provider wrote, ” We also are working on the stages of development for the children and putting them up so the families can see it and we can generate conversations with them.” 

All the information from the training regarding the stages are in the guide. It is free and tailored exactly for professionals working with young families.

Keep sending those comments, I love to hear from other providers. Are you having triumphs, challenges or experiencing any policy barriers? I look forward to hearing more. Thanks again for the feedback.


Guide for Young Parent Service Providers and Program Administrators

The National Center on Family Homelessness has published a guide for service providers and program administrators who work with young parents. On day three of the YPP training, all providers attending on that day were given a copy. Since many providers stated, in there action plan, that they plan to provide the guide to all staff, we are providing a link that you can download the guide and share it with your staff and colleagues. Please click here to download the guide.



Self Care Webinar

Self Care Webinar

Some Young Parent Providers mentioned the need for self-care training for themselves and other staff.This webinar titled “Building a Culture of Self-Care to Support Service Providers”, is offered by the National Center on Family Homelessness. If you can carve some time out on Thursday, May 10, 2012 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM EDT please  register for this. Feel free to pass this information on to your colleagues. Click here to register.


Young Parent Training

HFF is pleased to announce that Day 1 of our Young Parent Provider Training was a success. We partnered with the National Center on Family Homelessness  to develop a training for shelter providers who are adapting to working with a younger parent population. The training program is being supported by The Oak Foundation and DHCD and is intended for congregate shelters in the Boston area.  Materials and documents from Day 1 can be accessed by clicking here and will be available on the Documents and Materials link on the side of this page.

If you have any question regarding the training, please contact Michelle Botus, Program Development Specialist at Homes For Families.