Just a few years ago Chanel was living in a homeless shelter. At the time, Chanel’s youngest child, Kionna, was two years old, too young to attend school. Without a job, Chanel thought her only option was to stay home with Kionna.
Chanel’s family was referred to United Way’s Early Head Start Program. The program provides quality early care to the most vulnerable infants and toddlers up to 3 years old. The program also makes sure families are connected to services to help them succeed financially and in life.
Chanel was able to go back to school because of the program. She also attributes Kionna’s continued success to Early Head Start.
“I noticed a great difference in Kionna, compared to my other kids who didn’t go through United Way’s Early Head Start program,” Chanel shared.
Kionna just completed first grade, and is thriving in school. Chanel is also thriving, and feels proud of the example that she is setting for her kids. Chanel is an active United Way volunteer, helping make sure other families benefit from our program.
United Way’s Early Head Start program doesn’t just change lives, it changes what’s possible for children and families.
“I was ecstatic, it was like Christmas morning, every Christmas for the past 10 years put together.”
That’s how 35-year-old Christina Hedglin from Hamden remembered the moment she learned that her year-long struggle with chronic homelessness was over thanks to United Way and our network of community partners. For about a year, Christina and her boyfriend lived in their turquoise Cavalier.
Studies have shown that - in practice, and not just in theory - providing people like Christina who are chronically homeless with permanent supportive housing saves taxpayers money. It’s also the right thing to do.
Supporting homeless shelters and soup kitchens is valuable and necessary, but it won’t end homelessness. That’s why we’re working to end chronic homelessness in Greater New Haven by the end of 2016.
We are working with community partners to create a system that moves people from homelessness to housing. We bring together all of our community partners to prioritize and match the most vulnerable people with open apartments. We also measure community-wide results.
We’ve been working in this new way for just over two years, and we’ve housed almost 200 chronically homeless people.
Marilyn Monteagudo takes a stroll with Nutmeg, a dog that helps children share their feelings. Marilyn’s school is part of the New Haven Trauma Coalition, and “Soul Friends” is one of the new programs offered at school to tackle childhood trauma.
Research shows that exposure to trauma can lead to stress so toxic that it results in developmental delays, neurological damage and health issues like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
90% of New Haven students have been exposed to trauma.
The New Haven Trauma Coalition helps children through after school activites like yoga, meditation, and dancing, as well as providing traditional clinical workers.
United Way helps schools determine what their students need, identifies what the schools need, and then connects the school with community partners. This focus on prevention helps children avoid bigger issues down the road.
Through United Way’s work in the New Haven Trauma Coalition, we have served 2,366 students this past school year.