Bright Beginnings’ critical education, therapeutic and family services give homeless children and their parents the best chance of success in a still-challenging economic, housing and social services environment. Our mission is to provide homeless children with a safe, nurturing educational environment; prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to learn; and support homeless parents to stabilize their home lives and become self-sufficient. Our supportive setting for homeless children and their parents spurs positive housing, training, employment and education decisions that stabilize these families.
Each year, Bright Beginnings serves nearly 150 homeless infants, toddlers and preschoolers from 80 families living in homeless shelters or transitional housing in Washington, DC. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2011 KIDS COUNT data, 30% of the District of Columbia’s children live below the poverty level, compared to 17% nationally. The average parent at Bright Beginnings is a 26 year old, African American single mother with two children who lives in a family shelter on an income of $687 including food stamps. Sixty-nine percent do not have a high school diploma, 33% have a history of domestic violence, 34% have been sexually traumatized, 41% have a history of mental health issues and 43% of the fathers have been incarcerated. Our parents and their young children have been extremely responsive to our comprehensive services and family-centered approach.
Bright Beginnings plays a critical role in the network of agencies and organizations serving homeless families in Washington, DC, which has extremely high rates of poverty and homelessness, a high cost of living (including high rents) and scarce affordable housing. Bright Beginnings serves 25% of the homeless children younger than 5 years old in Washington, DC. In this environment, Bright Beginnings has been a beacon to homeless families across the city, many of whom travel long distances from far corners of the city to bring their children to a place of hope, help and respect. At Bright Beginnings, homeless parents find comprehensive educational and therapeutic services that prepare their children for kindergarten and family-stabilizing services that stabilize and strengthen their family and home life. Our waiting list, currently nearly 200 children, reflects the need and demand for high-quality developmental childcare with a strong family service component. Bright Beginnings has a 20-year track record of effectively serving homeless infants, toddlers and preschoolers and their families with research-based strategies and best practices that are widely seen as a local and national model for serving high-needs children and their families.
Top Reasons that Lead to Homelessness:
1. Unforeseen economic crisis
2. Job loss
4. Serious medical condition
5. Death in the family
*Statistics provided by National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Homelessness Research Institute's The State of Homelessness in America 2012 report.