Positive Tomorrows serves students experiencing homelessness by providing transportation, basic necessities, an individualized and trauma-informed education, and enrichment opportunities. Case managers simultaneously partner with families to promote self-sufficiency and stability at home, with the goal being to break the cycle of homelessness.
So what does this success look like, and what does it mean for students and families?
Every spring at Positive Tomorrows teachers, case managers, and counselors gather around the school’s large conference room table to take on one of the most difficult tasks of the year: recommending which students and families are ready to transition back into public school in the fall.
Staff look at three areas of focus: the child’s academic progress, the child’s social and emotional progress, and the family’s stability at home. Once these goals are met, staff at Positive Tomorrows prepare the family for the transition into public school. Case managers help with enrollment, uniforms, and school supplies Next, they make sure families are empowered to navigate their new school system.
“We see ourselves as complimentary to our public schools,” says Kelly Berger, Director of Family Support. “We want to take those students who struggle in traditional classroom environments and give them the tools to succeed there. We’re also partnering with families so that parents are empowered to participate in their kids’ education wherever they may go.
It can often take one to two years before a family is ready to make that transition, but case managers know there is also a delicate balance.
“If we’re keeping a family here for too long, we have to ask ourselves whether we are helping them, or holding them back,” says Berger. “These decisions are tough and multi-faceted, but all with the same goal in mind which is strengthening our families to achieve self-sufficiency”
It’s bittersweet for staff when students are ready to leave Positive Tomorrows. However, students and families understand that is something to celebrate.
“I won’t go to Positive Tomorrows next year,” said Anna* a fourth grader at Positive Tomorrows. “But I know that is okay, because it means we are not homeless anymore.”
Learn how you can get involved, and help students at Positive Tomorrows succeed today!
*Name has been changed for privacy purposes.