The face of homelessness is younger and younger
Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a person in the United States is more likely to be homeless during their first year of life than any other time?
Did you know that 51% of children who are homeless in our community are under the age of six? Approximately 7,400 children under the age of six are homeless in Tarrant County.
However, Tarrant County service systems are not responding to these needs adequately and are often unaware of the reality. Because of this lack of awareness, homeless children between the ages of 0 and 5 often go unobserved and unserved, but this lack of service will have long-term impact on our health care system, our education system and workforce if not addressed.
The Community Response to Homelessness in Early Childhood, convened by Elaine Klos, community volunteer and former Workforce Board member, and the Center for Transforming Lives, initiated work in March 2016 to raise awareness of the issue, accurately define the extent of the extent of children 0 - 5 experiencing homelessness and to make recommendations to address the problem. During 2016, this collaborative effort conducted focus groups with providers and families who have experienced homelessness. The top recommendations are:
To increase access to child care, with children in shelters as the priority
To increase access to affordable housing for families
To increase access to job training and employment so that the families may earn a sufficient wage to keep them stably housed
During 2017, committees are meeting to determine specific goals under each of these categories that specifically address the system and access issues in our community. The group intends to produce a report to the community in Fall 2017 in order to better coordinate and target efforts toward measureable, achievable solutions. Current partner organizations include MHMR of Tarrant County (Early Childhood Intervention and Behavioral Health Divisions), Cook Children’s Medical Center, Early Learning Alliance (including Child Care Associates), Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, Office of Tarrant County, Judge Glenn Whitley, UNT Health Science Center, Tarrant County Homeless Coalition, JPS Hospital District, Tarrant County Community Development and the Cities of Arlington and Fort Worth.
Want to learn more? Want to get involved? Email your interest to Carol Klocek, CEO for Center for Transforming Lives, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to have you!
About the author:
The Center for Transforming Lives' CEO, Carol Klocek, provides strategic leadership for all programs in alignment with the mission to move women, children, and families from poverty to independence. Ms. Klocek has more than 25 years of results-oriented nonprofit management experience, all within human service organizations, and holds master's degrees in social work from University of Texas at Arlington and a master's in business from Texas Christian University. Carol has been with the CTL 8 years.