March 18th marked the first day that a Homeless Prevention Coalition project began assessing families and providing services! After 3 years of discussing ideas and looking for solutions, we are about to see concrete progress.
The Childcare Committee’s goal is simple – to make sure that a lack of affordable childcare doesn’t stand between a family with small children and housing. This group spent months meeting with childcare professionals, organizations that provide local and state level vouchers, family services organizations, and discussing their own experiences with low income families. This investigation led us to a simple conclusion: families need childcare they can afford along with other basic bills, and the waiting list for vouchers is simply too long to meet the need. The requirement that the parent(s) continue working while on the waiting list for childcare vouchers makes it extremely difficult to get to the top of the list for parents who have few or no support structures to keep their children in good care while they work. If we are to serve the most vulnerable families, we needed something new.
The committee developed the simple but radical idea to ask childcare providers to temporarily donate spots in their childcare at an extremely reduced rate while the family waited to begin receiving vouchers or raised their income enough to afford childcare. This seemed like a huge request to make of professionals who make their living based on the number of children they serve, but it turns out many private childcares are already adjusting fees and making accommodations for families in need. By partnering with the Homeless Prevention Coalition, they know that the families they work with are truly in a crisis and have support from others in the community.
After years of careful planning and preparation, we are hopeful and eager to see families served. As the mother of a toddler, I have faced the challenges of finding quality, affordable care for my daughter. I remember realizing one day when my sitter canceled that my chances of missing work had suddenly tripled – not only could I get sick, but my baby or my babysitter too. As we transitioned from one childcare option to another, I often relied on friends or family to help fill in the gaps. It would be terrifying to know that having a sick child could mean the difference between providing for my family and losing the roof over our heads. As service providers at the Homeless Services Council regularly report on the families they’re seeing in need, I am reminded of the immense need for something to be done. I look forward to attending the annual Destination: Home Celebration and reporting that the Homeless Prevention Coalition has helped 5 families maintain their housing and give their children a brighter future. And this is just the beginning.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
Naila Carnagua has a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development degree and interned at Southeast Neighborhood Development and the Indiana Community Action Association. She worked as a Program Manager at the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development for one year, developing a wide breadth of experience and knowledge in the community development field. She then moved to Evansville and took the position of Prevention Coordinator to develop the Homeless Prevention Coalition. Naila proudly supports her husband, a local music teacher, and cares for her beautiful toddler and two cats at home.