DC is Counting Local Youth Who Experience Homelessness

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015

DC is Counting Local Youth Who Experience Homelessness

Homeless Children’s Playtime Project applauds the city’s effort to learn more about the challenges facing our young people This week, the DC government is conducting a first-ever count of young people who are experiencing homelessness in our city. City agencies, service providers, and local businesses are collaborating in this effort to measure the scale of youth homelessness and shed light on the challenges faced by young people. Playtime Project’s Deputy Director Tashira Halyard hails the census as an important step to better understand what can be done to ensure safe, affordable housing for all our children, youth and families. “We are pleased to see our elected officials taking action in this very tangible way. Through this coordinated, city-wide effort, we should gain a much better understanding of the full breadth of homelessness in DC, well beyond what we can immediately observe and measure in the shelters.” In our work with children and families throughout the city, Playtime sees first hand how unstable life can be for families experiencing homelessness. Sometimes, when a young person leaves the shelter, it is because they have found a permanent place to live. But many times, they have merely transitioned to homelessness in another location – whether on the street or in a precarious situation with friends or acquaintances. Playtime believes that this count of youth experiencing homelessness is an important step to improving conditions for all of our children and young people. “By giving us a wider perspective on the reality of youth homelessness in our city, we will understand better how to create a culture in which all of our young people and families are valued and given the opportunity for safe, permanent housing,” says Halyard. The Playtime Project enthusiastically supports Mayor Bowser’s bold commitment to end youth homelessness by 2020. Playtime lends its strength to this effort by providing programming that helps to shore up social and emotional skills that will benefit youth as they grow into adulthood. We also provide resources and referrals, connecting families experiencing homelessness to the wider circle of housing and social services in the District. Playtime is committed to increasing the number of certified and skilled social service workers who are connected with families experiencing homelessness in our city. About Homeless Children’s Playtime Project The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project provides tutoring, mentoring, and a safe space for young people experiencing homelessness, assisting families as they cope with the stress and upheaval of housing instability as they rebuild their lives. Additional Resources DC Conducts First-Ever Count Of Homeless Youth (WAMU...

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Drawing & Development: A Short Guide to Children’s Art

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013

Drawing & Development: A Short Guide to Children’s Art

Art projects are a crucial component of our Playtime Project play curriculum, because making art is critical to all aspects of children’s development. Art helps kids to: build strength in their arms, hands and fingers (physical development) practice hand and finger control, which helps improve writing skills (physical development) practice coordination of the hands and eyes (physical development) explore textures, colors, and tastes (cognitive development) plan a creation and make decisions about how to create it (cognitive development) explore and express their feelings (emotional development) expand their creativity (emotional development) work together and share (social development) interact with others (social development) Just as we monitor the development of our Playtime kids by noticing the number of words they use or how well they can throw a ball, we can also use art to make sure the children are developing as expected. As always, children develop at different rates, and there is a range of what is considered to be normal development. However, here are some useful guidelines for some things you should be looking for in children’s art (other than beauty!): 6 months – 1 year: Very young children can use art materials as a sensory experience. They aren’t quite ready to create fine art, but they can squish paint, pound playdough, and grasp crayons (all with VERY careful supervision, of course) 1 – 2 years:  Children this age begin scribbling! However, they can’t yet control their elbows or wrists and may not associate their movements with lines appearing on paper. They likely won’t able to sit and scribble for more than a couple of minutes at a time.2 – 3 years: Scribbling should be more controlled as children gain control of their arms hands and finger, and their hand-eye coordination improves. You’ll see repeated motions, like a series of ovals or lines. By age 3, they should be able to sit scribbling for 10-15 minutes. They may begin to identify their scribbles as mom, a house, etc.3 – 4 years: As children learn to control their hands and wrists, they begin to make more recognizable forms, such as circles, lines, and crosses. People are common drawings – they tend to be large heads with lines representing arms and legs growing directly from the head.  Children this age regularly name their artwork, indicating that they are learning that drawing is a way to communicate!4 – 6 years: Drawing begin to have more form and can be recognized by adults as people, houses, etc. They begin to add details to their people, such as feet and hair. Color becomes very exciting to children this age, but color is not used realistically and adults should allow children to choose their own colors rather than use realistic colors. By 6, art will begin to incorporate more realistic and detailed – fingers, necks, and clothing should be appearing on human figures. Children show more interest in the quality of...

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Playing Pretend Boosts Brain Development

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012

Playing Pretend Boosts Brain Development

Dressing up in princess dresses and firefighter uniforms and whipping up delicious meals in the play kitchen are favorite activities in all of our Playtime Project playrooms. These activities and other imaginative games are lots of fun for all children, and provide a special respite for kids whose current reality is life in a shelter. But did you know that pretend play is also associated with cognitive benefits such as increased language usage and the development of “theory of mind” (the awareness that other people’s perspectives may differ from our own)? Research shows that pretend play and “make-believe” are linked to the following positive behaviors in children age 2 and a half  – age 7:– reduced aggression– delay of gratification– heightened civility & empathy– improved social skills & communication skills– problem solving– cognitive flexibility & creativity (in fact, childhood imaginative play has been linked to increased creative performance later in life!) One study even found that make-believe games were more frequently played by Nobel Prize winners than by control groups! Read The Need for Pretend Play in Childhood Development, by Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD for more information, & keep up all that great imaginative play in the...

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Tip of the Week: See something? Say something . . .

Posted by on Aug 27, 2012

Tip of the Week: See something? Say something . . .

. . . About the fact that there are homeless families and children in our nation’s capital. Recently, one of our volunteers was telling a colleague about her volunteer work with the Playtime Project, and he looked at her in amazement. “There are homeless children here?” She asked us for some facts to enlighten her co-worker. Tell people about the amazing families with incredible children you know who are struggling to put a roof over their heads right here in DC. In fact, family homelessness in the Washington, DC region hasincreased 23 percent in the five years since the recession began, while theoverall population of homelessness has increased only 1 percent. This year,there are 3,388 homeless children in the area. Families are considered the “hidden homeless,” so educate your friends. Join our Facebook page to get the latest stats and articles. Give people the opportunity to get involved by inviting them to our incredible Oct. 14 fall fundraiser and our first-ever Oct. 28 5K fun run. Spread the word and see what more we can do together to turn the tide for children in our...

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