Helping children thrive
While most children’s’ summers are filled with memories of family road trips or other vacations, summer camp, lazy days on the beach or poolside, campfires and the great outdoors, children living with the realities of homelessness likely won’t have these stories to share when they return to school. Vacations and summer camps are simply out of reach for unsheltered families. For homeless families staying with Father Joe’s Villages, the organization’s Therapeutic Childcare team is bringing hope and normalcy into the lives of families in need through their annual Summer Camps.
Father Joe’s Villages’ Summer Camp program includes educational and fun summer activities for children staying in their shelters and housing programs, including safe trips into the community, art projects, science experiments and learning opportunities. The expert Therapeutic Childcare staff design a summer curriculum that focuses on healthy child development, important socialization and creating life-long memories for children most in need.
“During Summer Camp, children have the opportunity to relax and spend time with their families playing games and doing activities that are hands-on and not online,” explains Ashley Nguyen, an Educational Coordinator of Father Joe’s Villages Therapeutic Childcare. “We also provide children with social interaction with peers their age that many of our students have been lacking as they attend school online.”
Under normal circumstances, children experiencing homelessness face far greater challenges in achieving success in school and life than children who are housed. In 2020, when most San Diego schools limited classroom education, leaders at Father Joe’s Villages were determined to address the educational divide between homeless and housed children.
The “summer slide” is the term experts use for the learning lost during summer vacation. As a result, some schools are considering requiring summer school to help children catch up after the devastating negative impacts of 2020’s unprecedented school year. The Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a national testing organization, reported that the average student in grades 3-8 scored 5-10 percentile points lower than students who took math assessments the year previous.
Luckily, Father Joe’s Villages intervened early in the pandemic to ensure that the children they serve had access to distance learning resources through a Distance Learning Lab, the assistance of an Education Coordinator, and daily education check-ins. In 2020, 100% of children ages 3-17 in Therapeutic Childcare improved their academic and/or life skills.
No matter the circumstances, Father Joe’s Villages remains committed to helping children in need address social, emotional and academic developmental milestones, which are often delayed due to homelessness. At the Therapeutic Childcare Center, Child Development specialists and Educational Coordinators offer constant educational activities and assistance to help children build a brighter future, while also providing the childhood summer of their dreams.
Summers at Father Joe’s Villages support healthy child development, important socialization and beautiful memories that the kids will cherish forever. A gift to Father Joe’s Villages provides families and children in need the opportunity to enjoy a productive and happy summer. Learn more about how you can support children and families experiencing homelessness at my.neighbor.org.