38 Thomas Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Staff: 15 full time / 1 part-time
Program Directors: Ricki Abramson, Beatriz Valencia
Assistant Program Director of Children Program: Caitlin Welch
Assistant Program Director of Maintenance: Libaniel Lopez
Program Hours: 24-Hour Access
PRIMARY FUNCTIONS: Emergency shelter for families (up to 90 days), and occasionally, a single female resident with special needs.
ANCILLARY SERVICES: Crisis counseling; case management; information and referrals; linkages to other county and private agencies; children’s services; tutoring and other educational assistance; parenting education; car seat program; job readiness training; life skills training; housing information, referrals and advocacy; food pantries; aftercare program and homelessness prevention.
Residential Children’s Program
The Children’s Program at the Family Inn provides services, advocacy and age-appropriate support for the homeless children and parents who reside in the shelter. At the time of entry, many of the children have emotional problems related to the stress of homelessness, behavioral problems, academic challenges, medical issues, developmental delays, and issues related to the impact of trauma. The pre-school aged children often have problems that have not been identified or addressed at the time of entrance to the Shelter.
The following are the goals of the program:
- Meet children’s basic needs upon arrival.
- Work with parents to help them identify and assess their child’s needs for special services.
- Facilitate access to medical and dental care, as needed.
- Enroll or re-enroll children in school.
- Assess child’s school history to ensure that the child has received all special needs programming required and available. When necessary, tutors are made available.
- Educate parents on issues of age-appropriate behavior, non-violent discipline, child safety, and how to improve communication.
- Enhance the child’s self-esteem.
- Encourage and facilitate parent-child activities and bonding.
- Provide recreational activities and a structure to assist parents to ensure that their children are safe and nurtured.
- Provide childcare and children’s activities seven days per week to allow parents to achieve other goals, such as finding housing and employment, or dealing with legal, medical or other pressing issues, as needed.
These goals are achieved by:
- Providing material assistance, such as clothing, shoes, and as needed, backpacks and homework supplies, for all children.
- Meeting with parents regularly to set up medical, dental, mental health and other necessary appointments and ensuring access to these services by providing advocacy, scheduling and transportation.
- Assessing educational needs, including school enrollment, transportation (including helping to set up temporary transportation to the school of location as per the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act), and tutoring when needed.
- Instructing parents on how to properly install car seats and providing them as needed.
- Building parenting skills by providing one-on-one counseling and on-site parenting groups, and by enrolling parents in parenting classes provided through MHA of Ulster County and Family Services, Inc.
- Organizing children’s activities both on-site and in the local area to provide recreation and exercise, and to build self-esteem.
- Providing child care so that parents can meet with their case managers to locate housing, employment or vocational training, and attend mandated life skills groups on such subjects as budgeting, nutrition, parenting and issues related to domestic violence.
- Establishing story time each evening to encourage parents to read to their children and encourage a sleep schedule that ensures proper rest. Parents who participate report that their children become easier to get to sleep and have less behavioral issues the next day.
- Encouraging community involvement by scheduling trained volunteers and interns from local colleges to enrich our program and provide additional one-on-one attention to each child. Recent volunteers have included nursing students from SUNY Ulster, students from SUNY New Paltz and Vassar College, and local musicians.
Upon a family’s arrival, program staff begins working directly with parents to help them assess what their children’s basic needs are and then go about trying to fill these needs. Most children do not have basic essentials like pajamas and other clothing, toiletries, shoes that fit, coats and school supplies. The program provides these things through foundation support, fundraising efforts, and donations of clothing and supplies from individuals and organizations in our community.
The next step is to help parents focus on securing their children’s medical and dental care, emotional health, academic and recreational needs. Many of the children have never seen a dentist and are often behind in their immunizations. Services for expectant parents are also provided.
The program is staffed seven days per week and there are Saturday outings for children 8 years old and above. The program also provides after-care services to help parents transitioning to permanent housing to follow through with the services or appointments that were set up while the family was residing at the Family Inn.
The program shares a building behind the Darmstadt Shelter, which serves as the Learning Center for children from the Family Inn and as a resource for adults from Darmstadt who need to do job and housing searches. The computers in the Learning Center are being upgraded to new ones with funding from the Kingston City School District and will be used by youth from the Family Inn for homework and tutoring assistance.