During Playtime, children select activities from a variety of stations like arts and crafts, sports and recreation, reading, imaginative play, and special activities based on our innovative curriculum. Children also receive a healthy snack. Volunteers interact with children on a one-on-one basis or in organized group activities. We provide programming in Washington, D.C., at three shelter sites and one motel. We have two affiliate sites where we offer guidance and training support.
DC General is a former hospital that has been converted into a shelter on the second, third, fourth and fifth floors. It is the largest emergency family shelter in D.C. and is the first stop for many families seeking shelter. When at capacity, there can be upwards of 600 children and their parents staying at the shelter. The site is located near the Stadium Armory Metro (orange/blue line) at 1900 Massachusetts Ave., SE.
When the shelter opened in 2005, Playtime volunteers helped to create two playrooms on the first floor. Volunteers play with children ages 6 months-3 in the baby room. Down the hall, children ages 3-7 play in a space with free and guided activities. These programs take place twice weekly and serve approximately 80 children per week.
Our Preteen Program was founded in 2012, meets twice weekly and offers free and guided play programs for children ages 8-12. Past activities have included structured reading time with volunteers, reader theater, book clubs, and extracurricular activities such as Zumba, yoga, and African dance.
To meet the unique developmental needs of teenagers experiencing homelessness, we created our Teen Program in 2009. The program follows a positive youth development model and is designed to nurture a teen’s developmental task which centers around peer socialization and identity formation, while also providing critical academic support. During our three weekly teen programs, we provide academic tutoring, help teens enroll in school and work programs, and make sure they have the school supplies they need for everyday as well as for science projects and other special needs. Our volunteers serve as mentors, advocates, and facilitators of the time and space teens need to grow and develop with their peers.
In recognizing the need for daily opportunities at the shelter, Playtime families, staff, and volunteers advocated for over a year for a playground right outside the doors of DC General. City officials granted our request and opened a playground there in October 2014. Under the supervision of our playground managers, children now benefit from free and guided play activities at DC General seven days a week.
Turning Point Center
Turning Point is a transitional housing program designed by the Salvation Army for young mothers who receive a range of comprehensive services. Families usually take between one-to-two years to complete the program and stay in furnished apartments while receiving wrap-around services and gaining skills for self-sufficiency. The center is located a short walk from the Columbia Heights Metro (green/yellow line) at 1434 Harvard Street, NW.
Children in this program are generally younger, with the majority between age 1-4 years old. Approximately, 20-25 children participate in Playtime each night in beautiful play spaces that include a baby room, “big kid” club house, art room, and main playroom. Weather permitting, the children can also play in a gated space in front of and behind the building.
DASH Cornerstone Building
DASH (District Alliance for Safe Housing) is a low-barrier housing facility for survivors of domestic violence that opened in 2010 in Northeast D.C. The Cornerstone Building provides transitional housing for over 40 women and their children each year, and is the largest domestic violence housing facility in the District. Our program is held in a small playroom for toddlers upstairs and a large community room downstairs for older children, and there’s an outdoor play area. We serve approximately 30 children per week.
Playtime Project is one of DASH’s first program partners. For the safety of the children and families who live there, the location is confidential.
Hope Apartments, An Affiliate Site*
Hope Apartments is an apartment-style transitional housing program run by Community of Hope for 10 families with children, where the head of household is in recovery from substance abuse. Adults attend outpatient substance abuse treatment programs while simultaneously search for work and stable housing. This is the only program in D.C. where families remain intact while the head of household works on recovery. Hope Apartments is located in the Congress Heights neighborhood at 3715 2nd Street, SE. Playtime created this partnership in 2014 to provide important play activities to the children living there while parents focus on recovery.
New Beginning Emergency Family Shelter, An Affiliate Site*
New Beginning is an emergency family shelter run by the National Center for Children and Families where 80 children and their parents live in apartment style units. The complex is located a short walk from the Columbia Heights Metro (green/yellow line) at 1448 Park Road, NW.
* We provide limited support to help ensure Playtime continues without our staff onsite, and that the volunteer Site Coordinators receive ongoing training and support.
DC is the second least affordable housing jurisdiction in the country. In order to afford housing at fair market rate, a full-time worker must earn at least $29 per hour