Playtime Remains Dedicated to its Mission

Posted by on Jan 22, 2018 in Blog, Featured Stories |

By Jamila Larson, Executive Director

Last night, we learned that the city plans to close D.C. General Emergency Family Shelter in September/October of this year. While this is sooner than we had anticipated, Playtime has already begun researching opportunities to continue serving families experiencing homelessness across the District. The loss of Playtime’s largest site poses a challenge, and also an opportunity to expand Playtime to more children and youth across the city and continue to advocate for their needs.

In 2014, Playtime worked with the city to install a playground for the children living at D.C. General.

The closure of D.C. General will not affect our three other partner sites – we will continue to provide programming for children at Turning Point Center for Women & Children, DASH’s Cornerstone Program, and the Quality Inn overflow shelter.

While D.C. General, in many ways, symbolized the crisis of family homelessness in our city, this closing by no means makes the issue go away. According to DHS, families at D.C. General were informed last night that those who do not find housing before September will be transferred to another shelter. After this transition, families who would otherwise be placed at D.C. General will move into the smaller shelter sites being planned across the District, two of which are expected to open next fall. Families will also continue to be placed in the overflow motels, like the Quality Inn, where the majority of families experiencing homelessness live.

Though change can be daunting, we are up to the challenge and eager to find ways to expand our programming to reach more of the most vulnerable population experiencing homelessness in D.C.—our children. Our priority has always been, and continues to be, providing fun and educational activities designed to reduce the effects of trauma and help build resiliency in children experiencing homelessness throughout the city.

The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project will continue to urge D.C. to take this opportunity of the opening of new temporary housing sites to ensure that all family shelter settings be trauma-informed with comprehensive clinical case management services that include children’s needs. Families in shelters deserve high-quality, accessible supports right where they live that set them up to succeed.

Thank you to all our volunteers, donors, and supporters for your steadfast commitment to our mission. Over the next few months, we will continue to provide updates on our blog and through our bi-weekly e-newsletter. Please stay tuned on how you can walk with us through this transition, by our side!

Jamila ran Playtime as a volunteer since it was founded in 2003 and assumed the role as first full-time Executive Director in 2009. In 2012, she was named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine for her leadership of Playtime.