development field, experts in housing and community connections, to directly assist schools and their staff. Partnering with local schools and districts to offer these trainings, either in the community or during regularly scheduled staff meetings, allows for the development of strong partnership between these two stakeholder groups. Community developers can also work with schools and school districts to think proactively and create interventions and support plans that can be put in place when students do experience housing-related challenges. These plans can include the steps a school should take when identifying a student experiencing housing-related challenges, who to contact in the school or at the district, what community resources are available, and the referral processes to connect students to available supports. This planning can reduce the time it takes to connect families to resources. 8 3. Recognize the importance of building trust with students and families Presenters at the Growing Up & Out of Poverty: Why Housing Matters Symposium, often drawing on personal experience, emphasized the importance of building trust with students and families to address the challenging issues around poverty and housing instability. On one panel, author and motivational speaker Liz Murray described how her mentor helped her through the experience of attending school while homeless. This mentor, after whom she later named her organization, the Arthur Project, inspired her to work harder and overcome the barriers she faced. Trust is a critical component of addressing the concerns about stigma that educators reported facing in attempting to connect youth and families to supportive services. Half of all respondents indicated that challenges connecting with families present a barrier. Developing strong communication and referral mechanisms that rely on testimonials and stories from their neighbors will help families understand that the services and supports provided work and do not come with strings attached. Building relationships with residents, being engaged with school communities, these are ways that housing organizations and service providers can work towards this recommendation. Another way to build trust with students and families is through the service coordinator. A cornerstone of the service-enriched housing model, these professionals work closely with residents to meet and overcome various challenges. They become a trusted member of the community. It is important that, in the provision of important and necessary services, organizations value and respect clients as individuals and people, treating them with dignity. 4. R emove barriers faced by educators to connect students with supportive services Nearly all educators in our survey reported facing barriers in connecting students in need to supports. These barriers ranged from difficulty reaching families and concerns about stigma to long wait lists and the demands on educators’ time to understand who provides services. These findings point to opportunities for the community development sector and service providers to enhance and improve service offerings.
8 For more on building partnerships between housing and community development partners, see Advancing Mobility from Poverty: A Toolkit for Housing and Education Partnerships .
Growing Up & Out of Poverty
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