Playtime Supports Parents, Strengthens Families
Parenting is hard, especially when you’re experiencing displacement and homelessness. We at Playtime are committed to supporting parents who face these difficult challenges. We do this by caring for children, giving referrals to supportive services, and providing direct material support – such as diapers, strollers, and car seats – to families that need them.
Playtime also provides parenting classes which just resumed at DC General last week, using the Chicago Parenting Program (CPP) curriculum. This 12-week program is designed to give parents the support they need to provide the best possible care for their children. Designed in collaboration with parents of young children and supported by research, CPP speaks to the needs of families from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds. It has been proven to help improve parenting skills and confidence for parents, and to reduce behavior problems in children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old.
One of the most unique aspects about CPP is the way in which it empowers parents to support one another. Playtime’s parenting classes aren’t about some “expert” standing in front of a white board, telling parents what to do. Instead, our skilled instructors from Children’s Hospital promote shared reflection and mutual support among the parents themselves. Parents are encouraged to draw their own conclusions about what is best for their children, informed by the latest scientific research presented by CPP. Weekly video lessons serve as a starting place for rich discussions. The role of the group leader isn’t to give advice, but rather to support parents in advising and supporting one another.
Playtime’s weekly parenting classes at DC General are very popular, which means an even greater demand for our evening programs. While parents are engaged in learning together, their children are playing with Playtime’s dedicated volunteers. Play spaces already filled to capacity are now practically overflowing with romping children. This is a wonderful problem to have!
And yet, these new circumstances have also been a reminder to us of just how important age-appropriate spaces are to the Playtime model. For each additional baby or small child that we bring into a space, the need for care, attention and space grows exponentially. As we welcome so many more little ones into our play rooms, it is clear that the space we operate in sets limits on how many children we can care for.
With this in mind, it is vital that we work together to ensure that all families experiencing homelessness have access to age-appropriate play spaces for babies and small children. This spring, Playtime will be advocating such spaces for children living in temporary housing.
This is a critical moment. As the DC Council considers the Mayor’s proposal to create a new system of short-term housing, will you join us in ensuring that all future new shelter sites provide the space that children need to grow, learn, and play?