Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Brings Care to Homeless Infants and Toddlers

September 15, 2016
Child and staff playing in sandtray at PACT EHS

Child and staff playing in sandtray at PACT EHS

Rachel Demma, Child Care Program Specialist, Office of Child Care

Between 2014 and 2015, Maryland saw a 7% rise in homelessness, particularly among families. Young children whose families are experiencing homelessness are more likely to suffer negative impacts on their growth and development with long rage effects on their school readiness and well-being. In Baltimore this is being addressed through the Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership initiative.

EHS-CC Partnership grantee Maryland Family Network Visit disclaimer page (MFN) and their delegate agency PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs Visit disclaimer page , is providing high-quality, therapeutic EHS services on-site at Sarah’s Hope, a family residential shelter in Baltimore. The groups have successfully leveraged the child care subsidy program and EHS resources, as well as the power of parents and community collaboration, to run an innovative and collaborative program which brings essential therapeutic and comprehensive services to this vulnerable population of young children and their families. At Sarah’s Hope this includes 24 additional homeless infants and toddlers whose families also receive intensive and residential support.

The EHS-CC Partnership’s distribution of start-up funds allowed PACT 18 months to ensure community coordination for the delivery of comprehensive services and train and support staff in implementing Head Start standards. Through relationships with community behavioral and mental health providers, MFN ensures that the infants and toddlers receive the trauma-informed care that promotes positive and enriching early care and learning experiences, which research has shown can improve early social-emotional and executive function outcomes Visit disclaimer page . The shelter’s early childhood program also has a new playground, and staff has seen tiered increases in salaries based on their credentials or degree.

Earlier this summer, I met my colleagues Marsha Basloe, Melissa Brodowski, and Deputy Assistant Secretary Linda Smith in my hometown of Baltimore, to visit PACT and tour the new early childhood center at Sarah’s Hope, where we met with PACT staff, toured the EHS-CCP classrooms, and observed parent engagement, including an early childhood mental health consultation session.

Everyone we met with from the MFN EHS-CC Partnership program at Sarah’s Hope, from grantee leadership to program staff and parent volunteers, pointed to the flexibility of the EHS-CC Partnership model as key to their success. By bringing together resources and relationships, this EHS-CC Partnership allows the youngest residents of Sarah’s Hope increased access to high-quality program supports and services that lead to a lifetime of thriving and learning, despite the challenge of homelessness.

Learn more about the renovation and expansion of Sarah’s Hope, Baltimore City’s largest homeless shelter for families.

Learn more about the Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership initiative.

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