Elsie's Story: Read the Story

Elsie Dribeau and her two-year-old daughter Neema are one of several families who recently came to the area from Haiti. Since arriving, they have been living in a homeless shelter. Volunteers from the Newcomer Center routinely visit the homeless shelter. They provide translating services to communicate with families in their native language regarding the eligibility of their young children for Head Start. Because of limited resources at the Newcomer Center and the large number of families in need of services, the Dribeau family has had to wait to meet with a volunteer. By the time the family met with a volunteer and found out about the Azalea Early Head Start program, the Dribeau family had been living in the homeless shelter for three weeks.

Your Task

Think about:

  • What organizations can the Azalea Early Head Start program connect with to allow non-English-speaking families to gain quick access to the information that they need?
  • Azalea Early Head Start has some contact with the school district's local homeless liaison in order to share information. Will it be useful to strengthen this connection?

Once you have your ideas, read what Azalea Early Head Start did.

What Azalea Early Head Start did

Since there have been a number of Haitian families moving into the community, Azalea Early Head Start wanted to plan ahead to prepare for the new families. Because Head Start programs and local schools often serve the same families, Azalea Early Head Start contacted the school district's local homeless liaison to explore the school district's interest in pooling resources for translation and interpretation services provided by the Newcomer Center. Azalea Early Head Start staff, staff from the Newcomer Center, and the local homeless liaison met to discuss how each agency would meet the family's needs for translation and interpretation services. Azalea Early Head Start explained to the Newcomer Center staff about Head Start and the value of early identification of children who are eligible for Head Start services based on homelessness. Azalea Early Head Start was also able to involve parents of newly enrolled Haitian children by encouraging them to talk to new families about Head Start services and assist in integrating the new families into the program.

Elsie's Story: Expand Your Connections

In Elsie's story, Azalea Early Head Start strengthened an existing community alliance. Use Part 2 of the Connections worksheet [RTF, 247KB] to record your ideas for community partnerships that you could initiate or strengthen.

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As you complete Part 2 of the Connections worksheet, think about the community connections for supporting families experiencing homelessness that you could initiate or strengthen:

  • Did Elsie's story give you any ideas as to which traditional or nontraditional agencies and service providers may be good connections for your program?
  • Are there agencies or service providers with which your program has had little contact? Which ones? How would you establish contact?
  • What is the impact of each referred agency or service provider on the families experiencing homelessness?
  • How can each agency or service provider support you in serving families in homeless situations?
  • What advisory councils do you have that include representatives from any of the agencies or service providers that collaborate with your program?

Last Updated: July 9, 2014