Roslyn Edwards, Director of Early Childhood Education
People's Emergency Center
Decades of research demonstrate that high quality early childhood education can help break the cycle of poverty by helping young children learn and grow.
For Philadelphia’s families residing in shelter, it is challenging to find a home and a place for their children to learn. This can feel overwhelming.
People's Emergency Center (PEC) has been working with families, shelters, and early childhood education centers since 2016 to improve social and educational outcomes for children in shelter through Building Early Links for Learning (BELL).
Steady progress was made enrolling children in high quality education programs, until many early learning programs shuttered as a result of the spread of COVID-19 last year.
We have released the report from our 'Roundtable Discussion' with Congressperson Dwight Evans and 16 experts who discussed the promise of early childhood education for young children experiencing homelessness. We held this event last fall, and more than 435 people participated in the discussion. Read the report at https://bit.ly/3pr42BX
These experts, from the homeless services and early childhood education sectors identified more than 50 recommendations, which we have summarized into four key themes:
- Improvements in coordination through partnerships: Continue and expand partnerships with stakeholders like parents, education centers, and housing providers.
- Data: Develop a more effective data system so that we can target specific support to each of the child in shelter.
- Increase and maintain enrollment: There is a need to locate and enroll more children experiencing homelessness into high quality programming and the need to maintain these enrollments as families' circumstances change, especially during the COVID19 pandemic.
- Strengthen the safety net: Advocate that HUD expand its definition/criteria for funding to include early childhood supports, bolster existing and develop new resources to ensure that families experiencing homelessness are served.