Jolene's Story: Read the Story

Jolene Armstrong came to the Magnolia Early Head Start center today to enroll her one-year-old son, Chauncey. Her six-year-old and eight-year-old sons, Arnie and Jack, were with her as well. She said that she just arrived in town by bus to stay with her mother for awhile. She lost her job in the southern part of the state and was evicted. She could only bring with her the items that she could fit in one suitcase. The children had not changed clothes for several days, and the boys did not have coats to keep warm in the wintry weather. They were all hungry. Jolene seemed exhausted and uncertain as to how long she would be able to stay with her mother who lives in a small apartment on a fixed income.

Your Task

Think about:

  • What community resources could help this family with its immediate and long-term needs?
  • Who would Magnolia Early Head Start need to collaborate with to provide these resources or services?

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

What Magnolia Early Head Start did

The Magnolia Early Head Start program identified that the Armstrong family needed immediate help with food, winter clothing and housing options in the event that they were unable to stay with Jolene's mother. The family also needed support in ensuring that the sons were enrolled in school and that they received appropriate services. Jolene needed help finding employment.

Magnolia Early Head Start referred to its list of existing partners to determine if any might be able to help the Armstrong family. They were able to enlist the Community Table and St. Mary's Soup Kitchen to provide food. Two years ago, the Magnolia Early Head Start program contacted the Holly Grove Thrift Shop about starting a voucher program. Since that time, the Holly Grove Thrift Shop donates three vouchers to the Magnolia Early Head Start every month. They gave one of the vouchers to the Armstrong family for help with clothing.

In addition, the Magnolia Early Head Start contacted several low-rent hotels that they partner with for help with housing in case the need were to arise. As part of their collaboration, the Magnolia Early Head Start program provides the hotel owners with information on families experiencing homelessness and asks the owners to contact Head Start when families with young children move in. The Magnolia Early Head Start program follows up with the hotel owners on a monthly basis to find out if they have any questions, need more Head Start brochures, or have suggestions to better connect families with Head Start services.

Since Chauncey has two brothers who will be in the local elementary school, Magnolia Early Head Start contacted the school district's local liaison to let her know about the family's situation and to set up a time to discuss the coordination of services. The data collected from the comprehensive community assessment identified an increase in families experiencing homelessness. In response, Magnolia Early Head Start created an advisory committee for families in homeless situations. The committee includes an employment advisor from the local Chamber of Commerce. Prior to the next meeting, Magnolia Early Head Start will contact the employment advisor to arrange a meeting for Jolene to discuss possible job opportunities.

Jolene's Story: Expand Your Connections

In Jolene's story, Magnolia Early Head Start mainly used existing partnerships to help the Armstrong family. Use Part 1 of the Connections worksheet [RTF, 247KB] to record your current community partnerships.

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As you complete Part 1 of the Connections worksheet, think about your current community connections and how they support families experiencing homelessness.

  • Did Jolene's story give you any ideas as to which agencies and service providers, traditional or nontraditional, may be good connections for your program?
  • Are there specific agencies or service providers that you would refer families experiencing homelessness? Which ones?
  • Are there agencies or service providers that you contact for collaborative activities in supporting families experiencing homelessness? Which ones?
  • 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 Reviewed: December 2013

Last Updated: July 9, 2014