Monday, May 6, 2013

How to Work with Children Experiencing Homelessness

     This is the first in a two part series of articles written by our friend Sara Stacy. Sara is a psychology major at UC with a passion for helping children. During her freshman year, Sara interned for Faces without Places. She is currently working to co-found a club on UC's campus called REACH: (fund)Raising & Educating About Child Homelessness. Sara is also a dedicated Yellow Bus Summer Camp volunteer. We can always count on Sara, as she is one of our most frequent volunteers.

How to Work with Children Experiencing Homelessness
By Sara Stacy

Being a teacher in a public school is surely not an easy job and when a child that is experiencing or has experienced homelessness is in your class or school, it may seem overwhelming or even impossible to deal with. However, it is important for teachers and administrators to do what little they can, because the child may not have anyone else fighting for them. We have outlined three important steps to working with a child that is experiencing homelessness so that you can improve their life in the best possible ways.
The first step in working with a child experiencing homelessness is to be sensitive to them and their situation. Let the child know that you are there to help in any way and make sure they see you as an approachable adult in their life.
The second step is to make the student feel welcome. Create a buddy system for new students and keep the student involved in group activities. Do your best to help them make friends and feel like they belong. Provide a welcoming atmosphere for the parents to become involved as well. Make school a place they want to be.
The third step is to make sure they have enough help academically. Make sure you assess the level the child is at initially and try to help him/her get up to speed with where the class is. If they are having difficulty, offer tutoring or suggest somewhere they can get extra help. Allow students to work on homework during class and ask questions or time for extra explanations.
Lastly, and most importantly, remember to create a trusting bond between yourself and the child. Let them know you understand and are there to help them in any way possible. Remember to make them feel comfortable and welcome!
If you know of students in your school or classroom that may not have the tools to succeed, contact our Program and Outreach Manager, Shelley Werner at                            
Stay tuned for next week's installment of the Sara Stacy Series, about the importance of resilience for children experiencing homelessness.

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