Today, Sesame Street Workshop launched a national initiative on family homelessness to bring awareness and support to young children and their parents who are homeless, and those who serve them, including early childhood programs, schools, and service providers. Lily, a sweet and resilient 7-year-old muppet whose family experienced homelessness, is featured throughout the new resources, which include a storybook, videos, activities, and materials for providers.
Family homelessness has increased dramatically over the past decade, with public schools reporting 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness in the 2016-2017 school year. This is a 70% increase since 2007-2008 and the highest number on record. The Administration on Children and Families estimates that 1.2 million infants, toddlers, and young children experience homelessness each year.
To help providers quickly and effectively leverage Sesame Street’s resources in the context of their specific work, SchoolHouse Connection has produced suggested tip sheets organized by roles: school district homeless liaisons, early childhood programs, and homeless assistance and housing programs. And, because there is a role for all of us in supporting children and families experiencing homelessness, we offer age-appropriate strategies and activities for both the general public and for children and youth who wish to support their peers.
“Sesame Street’s new initiative on homelessness is nothing short of transformative for those of us working to create a sense of stability and hope for families experiencing homelessness. At SchoolHouse Connection, we are eager to use the new materials to increase the identification of children who are homeless in early childhood and educational settings, to increase support for children in homeless services and housing programs, and to raise the visibility of family homelessness among policymakers at every level. It’s up to all of us to make sure Lily and her friends find their way to the children and families who need them.” – Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection and member of Sesame Workshop’s Advisory Committee.
Sesame Street in Communities hosted an interactive conversation on Thursday, December 13, with a panel of experts to raise nationwide awareness about homelessness, its effects on children, and ways providers can help. Barbara Duffield was one of the panelists. Check out the video below.