Pathways to Home is a collaborative effort among nonprofit agencies, faith-based organizations and individuals to eliminate child homelessness in Seminole County. Since 2009, Pathways to Home has served over 264 families, including more than 680 children. To date, 100% of those who completed the program had stable housing and 88% were employed. The PTH model includes the evidence-based practice of Family Team Conferencing, a strengths-based approach that empowers parents to make long-term, positive changes. Participant families receive financial literacy training, legal assistance, education and employment support, and direct financial assistance including payments toward rent, utilities, childcare and other expenses which move the family toward self-sufficiency.
Currently, Pathways to Home is serving 30 families, including families who have resided on the street and in emergency shelters, as well as those who have been served eviction notices. By providing these families with support and structured case management, PTH keeps more families intact and lessens the need for children to enter the foster care system.
In 2015 there are over 2,000 homeless children enrolled in Seminole County Public Schools.
How Pathways to Home Works
Seminole County is fortunate in that many key social service agencies have come together under the Pathways to Home umbrella to provide coordinated services to families in need. The Pathways model gives power back to families who are willing to make a commitment to work toward their own advancement. We do not force families to change. Our involvement is respectful and positive and builds on each family’s strengths and experiences. Using the Family Team Conferencing model of case management, families set and commit to their own goals for success. Whatever route families take, our support team nurtures the family back to self-sufficiency.
Our approach recruits families who are willing to strive toward improvement. Our approach works closely with them to reduce frustration and uncertainty, while simultaneously increasing motivations, knowledge and skills. Each family has a case manager who will help them locate and wisely use appropriate resources related to housing, health and nutrition, education, family finances, career training and other essential life skills. The program is dedicated to assisting every committed family in contributing to and thriving in our community on a long term basis.
The families and their case managers meet regularly in Family Team Conferences to ensure that needed resources are identified and made accessible and that any problems are being addressed and resolved. Each aspect of the program and each family-case manager relationship is aided by a web-based data collection, resource allocation and communications network. This integrated management system allows information sharing, avoids duplication or gaps in services, reduces paperwork and ensures rapid service delivery. Equally important, this network is the basis for data collection that will provide qualitative and quantitative information on how well the program is being implemented.
US National Averages in 2010 indicate:
- 23% of our Nation’s Homeless Population consists of School Age Students
- There are over 770,000 homeless students enrolled in our Public Schools
- The average age of the adult in a homeless family is 30-32 years old.
- Over 75% of homeless families at some time share housing with a friend or relative, thus adding to the hardship on the family that is willing to help.