September 2020
The Yay Babies Edition
by Kathy Desmond, PEC's CEO

PEC is dedicating September and October for its 'Yay Babies Campaign.'

'Yay Babies' celebrates our focus on young children who experience homelessness. Every year we concentrate our energies to increase awareness of the needs of these children. 

Two weeks ago, we partnered with Congressperson Dwight Evans on a Roundtable Discussion on the intersection of the homeless housing and early learning systems. A dozen national, state, and local experts shared their work and identified challenges and recommendations that we all need to consider. We aim to report out this work in the near future.

In the meantime, you can read my testimony here

Working with Master's level interns from Drexel School of Public Heath and Temple's Social Work department, our staff have summarized a variety of new reports on various aspects of how Covid 19 is affecting child care and other important services for families. Read these reports here. You can find our podcasts on this page, too. 

The late Dr. Staci Perlman is credited with coining the phrase 'Yay Babies,' something she sang about after Pennsylvania changed its Early Intervention qualification guidelines to include young children who experience homelessness. It has been five years since Staci passed away, and we dedicate the Yay Babies Campaign to her memory. 

And, by coincidence, I happened to have become a grandmother recently, not once, but twice, as both of my children delivered babies born a few weeks apart. These babies will grow up in loving and supportive families, my hope for all babies everywhere. No baby should be homeless, yet more than 1,700 children ages 0-5 spent at least one night in a Philadelphia homeless shelter last year. This number seems to increase every year!  Why do we as a society tolerate this? 

The good news is that there are literally thousands of adults working every day to serve children. I thank each and every person out there who brings a smile to sheltered child. PEC stands with you and will strive to continue to strengthen the work that is needed. 

September 18 2020 Roundtable Discussion Identifies Recommendations for Efforts Supporting Young Children Experiencing Homelessness

Partnering with Congressperson Dwight Evans, PEC brought together fifteen national, state, and local leaders to discuss efforts to connect young children experiencing homelessness to high quality early learning. 

Amazingly, more than 430 individuals watched live and 1,200 viewers have watched the video!   

Congressperson Evans started the discussion asking about what are people doing to support young children. By the end, he said "I heard you" and "I am listening to you." 

Together, the group offered more than 20 recommendations which PEC will summarize for a soon-to-be released report. 

In the meantime, check out the video now posted on the Congressperson's website: view the recorded video here.

PEC will report out more activities from the Roundtable and will include them in future BELL newsletters, emailed out every second week of the month. If you want to receive those emails, let us know by emailing us.

Roundtable Recommendation #1 

Barbara Duffield of SchoolHouse Connection reminded everyone that children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness have been largely left out of previous coronavirus legislation - yet they are at high risk of transmission, illness, and other harms. 

She encouraged listeners to advocate for the Emergency Family Stabilization Act (EFSA). EFSA fills the gap by providing flexible emergency funding to the agencies that are closest to children, youth, and families. 

You can take action today to ensure that prolonged child and youth homelessness does not result from the coronavirus pandemic.
  1. Tell your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to insist that the Emergency Family Stabilization Act be included in the next coronavirus relief package. Use this action form to enter your zip code, and send a letter.
    • NOTE: If you have existing relationships with your Member of Congress or their staff, please reach out directly.
  2. Endorse the legislation (local, state, or national organizations) by completing this sign-on form.
  3. Click here to get additional resources and see the list of endorsing organizations. 

And ... 

Thank you, Congressman Evans, for sponsoring the Emergency Family Stabilization Act!  

Dawn Nock coordinated this massive effort to deliver activity kits to 385 children in shelter.
PEC Develops New Early Childhood Education Tools for Families Quarantined in Shelters

Thanks to Reinvestment Fund, the Vanguard Strong Start for Kids and The William Penn Foundation, PEC worked with 15 emergency shelters to distribute to 385 children age-appropriate, high quality activity kits, bringing joy and excitement to children waiting out the pandemic.
PEC Posts BrainGains and Podcasts

PEC created a number of summary reports called "BrainGains" that highlight key research and findings that support young children who experience homelessness. 

Staff serving families who experience homelessness can use these tools to strengthen their work. 

Brain Gains

One report summarizes "Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined," a working paper produced by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

Another report summarizes "Young Children's Home Learning and Preschool Participation Experiences During the Pandemic," a study by Dr. Steven Barnett, Dr. Kwanghee Jung and Dr. Milagros Nores from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. 

Podcasts: PEC put together a podcast using the the Children's Work Group Early Childhood discussions. The podcasts features a discussion with state officials the issues around opening up chlid care during the time of COVID 19, the School District's homeless education work, and home visiting.