Family Shelter Spotlight
How VOADV Family Shelters Adapt To Serve The Ever-Changing Needs of Mothers and Families
During the past year, Volunteers of America Delaware Valley witnessed firsthand the many challenges and struggles facing mothers and families.
VOADV client Latasha Kendrick is one example. As a single mother of three, Ms. Kendrick was forced to choose between maintaining a job she loves and caring for her children when they transitioned to remote learning once the pandemic hit.
However, despite the hardships, we’ve also seen incredible strength, perseverance and extraordinary dedication as individuals tackled the pandemic head-on.
VOADV operates three shelters specifically designed for women, families and children – Anna Sample Complex in Camden County, Eleanor Corbett House in Gloucester County and Agape House in Somerset County. These programs offer women, children and families a safe, supportive place to call home as they work towards independence and a second chance at life.
The pandemic changed many things – including how our shelters could best provide services and support to these individuals and their families on their journey.
An estimated 60% of the families in our shelters are currently residing there because a shared residence became overcrowded and they were asked to leave. This is a situation that likely became much more common during the pandemic, as social distancing and quarantine guidelines went into effect. Additionally, the majority of families in our shelters have five or more individual members in their families – which makes finding sufficient housing one of their most common needs.
While the case management services provided at VOADV shelters – which includes housing, treatment, employment services and more – never once wavered during the pandemic, many mothers sought out assistance in one area in particular: education and at-home schooling.
“We have children in our programs who are in school full-time, while others are in hybrid or fully remote learning,” said Tamika Levels-Hood, VP of Homeless Services. “Many of the mothers and families in our shelters needed help managing their children’s education. It was a new role for them to assume, and they needed guidance in how to make it all work.”
When it became clear that education and schooling would be a prominent need of the mothers and families in our shelters, VOADV staff adapted quickly to provide new services and help families navigate the new, complex world of schooling at-home.
“Our case managers have done a great job at building relationships with homeless liaisons at each school to make sure every child has what they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom,” continued Ms. Levels-Hood.
Thanks to their strong relationships with the local schools, VOADV case managers at our family shelters were about to better help families manage their child’s schedule, receive their work if the child is learning remotely, arrange transportation for in-person students and more.
“We’ve also been focused on making sure the children in our housing programs have the technology they need to complete their work,” continued Ms. Levels-Hood. “All of our programs are WIFI accessible, and we make sure that each student has a Chromebook if they should need one.”
Managing education and at-home learning was a unique experience for both families and VOADV case managers during the pandemic. However, everyone has come together to ensure the educational experience, while different, is still a positive one for everyone – most importantly, the student.
To learn more about VOADV’s family shelters, please visit https://www.voadv.org/emergency-housing.