The Light Within: Children’s New Life Plan
April 15, 2019
Over the course of the past year, Raleigh Rescue Mission developed the New Life Plan. It’s a comprehensive, step-by-step strategy aimed at helping our homeless clients gain resilience and rebuild their lives, with the ultimate goal being to gain employment allowing them to rent, or own, their home. “Given that more than half of our clients are single mothers with children, we knew that any successful approach would include a focus on services for children, including a safe and caring environment for them while their parents do the hard work of getting back on their feet,” said John Luckett, RRM CEO.
Kathryn Brooks, Director of Children’s Advocacy at RRM, has worked alongside leadership to create the Children’s New Life Plan. It includes programming from 6:00 am until 8:00 pm five days a week, and many activities organized for weekend time also. “For years we had a significant focus on our preschool program aimed at providing comprehensive services for children aged 2 ½ through 5 years of age,” Brooks said. “We have broadened our perspective now, and we look at our Children’s New Life Plan as programming to meet the needs of children from birth through age 18, and to meet their needs all day long.” Alongside the shift in thinking, there was also a shift of where services are provided. “We traded spaces with some other departments and now most of our offerings are housed in one place,” Brooks relayed. There are two Children’s Ministries teams providing services from 6:00 am until 9:00 pm.
While many of the services provided through the Children’s New Life Plan have been offered in some form for decades at the Mission, Brooks implemented a new initiative last year in conjunction with Sylvan Learning. Assessments and tutoring now take place two nights a week on-site at the Mission, deliberately scheduled to coincide with when the children’s mothers are involved in Jobs-for-Life or other training programs. The results have been overwhelmingly positive to date. “So far we’ve provided almost a thousand hours of tutoring to 38 children over the course of the last 8 months. On average, every child has progressed about one grade year since the program started,” Brooks said. The numbers are impressive, but the progress is not just about academics.
“It’s about personalizing each student’s instruction so that we can not only improve academics, but also boost self-confidence and strengthen self-esteem. Each student has a light within, and we believe they can shine it bright. Yes, we provide tutoring but we also provide hope.”
Julie Hoyes, Executive Director of Sylvan Learning Center in Raleigh and the surrounding area