Educating Homeless Families

by Dr. Chad Audi

It’s probably something you don’t give much thought to, but have you ever wondered how well homeless children perform in school? Due to their unstable living environment, many are at increased risk of not learning as well as other children. But, one way of increasing the chance of academic success is to provide education programs for the entire family.

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) is pleased to be involved in a pilot project called the “Family Learning Program,” administered by the St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center (SVSF) and funded by Reading Works of Detroit.

The program works like this: SVSF creates personalized education programs for homeless women and children staying at our Genesis House II transitional housing facility. In a press release, Diane Renaud, SVSF executive director and CEO, said: “We believe that by working with multiple generations simultaneously, it will help break the cycle of resistance to education faster.”

Makes sense, right? After all, much of what a child learns about life comes from watching his or her parents. So why not teach academics and employment skills to the entire family at the same time!

Many of DRMM’s clients need help improving their reading skills. Detroit has an alarmingly high illiteracy rate: 47-percent of adults, according to the National Institute for Literacy. Without the ability to read adequately, it is difficult for our clients to learn job skills and land employment as we help them rebuild their lives. The ability to read is essential for them to become self-sufficient, productive citizens in our society.

Meanwhile, the children will get personalized assistance with their school work to make sure they keep up with the standard levels of achievement as they progress to the next grade. We also expect that this family learning opportunity will raise the self-esteem and confidence of the women and their children.

Thank you, SVSF and Reading Works. We are excited about the potential of this pilot project!

Dr. Chad Audi

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