The Children’s Services team believes every moment of enrichment and support that we can provide a homeless child strengthens her or his resiliency. Our dedicated staff supports children by providing after-school tutoring, monitoring school attendance and performance, helping parents find childcare, providing therapeutic support to families with children and offering a variety of enrichment activities and services. Enrichment services include children’s reading groups, art and music programs, homework help, camping in the Presidio and trips to museums, beaches and parks. We also provide services that help strengthen the parent child-bond such as tummy time, reading together and parenting workshops. Hamilton Families creates an environment where families feel supported and children are able to stabilize and thrive.
In FY 15-16, 856 children received services from Hamilton Families.
Services for Parents: Because the primary concern of families who are homeless is to obtain food and shelter, the emotional and developmental well-being of children often takes a back seat. However, Hamilton Families recognizes the importance of strengthening parenting skills and resiliency. We offer a Tummy Time Program for infants and Toddler Time for children ages 1 to 3, allowing parents to bond with their children while playing, learning and sharing. For parents with older children, we offer enriching drop-off based programming, allowing parents much needed time for tasks such as filling out applications, preparing dinner or even taking a few moments for crucial self-care. We also coordinate workshops and support groups that focus on positive parenting, mindfulness, stress management and coping skills. These workshops are offered in multiple languages as needed.
After-School Educational Support: Children who experience homelessness often fall behind academically due to frequent moves, school transitions and absences. Hamilton Families’ after-school activities help close the educational gap by offering drop-in homework help and educational case management. Music classes, art classes and educational field trips serve to engage children while enriching their education. Hamilton Families also works closely with the San Francisco Unified School District to provide bus passes, school uniforms, enrollment assistance and general advocacy to ensure that children receive the support they need to excel in school.
Special Events and Excursions: Hamilton Families encourages healthy and active living by organizing activities like rock climbing, camping, hiking, swimming, drumming, dance and hula hoop classes. During summer months and spring break, Hamilton Families youth attend field trips to farmers’ markets, local parks, Slide Ranch and museums. We also emphasize community-building by coordinating activities like family cooking night, holiday parties, birthday celebrations and back-to-school events.
Yoga and Mindfulness: Yoga and mindfulness provide children with a special time to relax and be present. This practice is especially important in the midst of the chaos that often accompanies the experience of homelessness. These classes also provide critical self-regulating tools for the children to carry with them once they leave the shelter. Hamilton Families partners with Yoga Kids and other community organizations and individuals in order to provide youth in our shelters with yoga, movement and mindfulness workshops.
Technology Center: At our shelter sites, parents and children can access computers and tablets in our technology centers. These computers enable students to complete homework, check grades on their schools’ portals and learn valuable computer skills. Our centers also provide on-line educational programs, including Code.org, Imagine Learning and EverFi, available for both children and teens.
Volunteers are a tremendous support. Some folks volunteer every week. Students from UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, and the University of San Francisco dedicate part of a semester or school year. Many corporate groups in the Bay Area send staff to help with special events from deep cleaning to helping with field day.
Become a Hamilton Families volunteer today.
A Story of Hope
Maria was 11 when she and her family moved into Hamilton Transitional Housing. A regular in Children’s Services activites, Maria came one afternoon very excited about an organization she heard about called 7 Teepees. They have a 7 year program involving academic help, leadership skill development, and giving back to the community. Children’s Services staff helped the family fill out the application and set up an interview. Unfortunately, Maria was so nervous in the interview she didn’t present herself well and wasn’t accepted into the program. Knowing that she would be a good fit, Hamilton Families staff advocated on Maria’s behalf and 7 Teepees agreed to a second interview. Although Maria was disappointed, she was encouraged to keep focused on her goal and prepare more. Staff practiced interview skills with her so that Maria went to the second interview with a different attitude and boldness. She was accepted into the program.
Maria’s first summer with 7 Teepees was a huge success. She returned home each day with a huge smile on her face. The skills she developed in that program overflowed into all aspects of her life, and we noticed how her leadership skills developed at Hamilton Transitional Housing. Maria encouraged the younger kids to listen to staff and had fun engaging with them. As Maria and her family moved into permanent housing, they each expressed gratitude for the support they received in our program, and were set to continue to receive support through the 7 Teepees program.