HERO CENTRAL: Bright Beginnings Nurtures Children Of Homeless Families

11:54 PM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) --- More than one million children experience homelessness in America each year, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.

In our area Bright Beginnings serves children of homeless families by providing an enriching day care center.

"Whenever Bright Beginnings is open, my children are here," said Loretta Jones who lives in transitional housing.

Jones, 26, enrolled her two children, Frederick, 4,  and Gwendolyn, 3, about two years ago after a social worker's presentation on Bright Beginnings. 

"I was hesitant at first because I'm one of those over protective moms. But I came and they made me feel...at home," Jones explained. The mom says she feels safe leaving her children while she pursues her education and career goals.

Brighter Beginnings offers free childcare services for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.

"It supports the families in terms of ensuring that their children have a safe place. While they are either seeking for their housing or just self sufficiency," said Dr. Betty Jo Gaines, Executive Director.

The center engages children in healthy social interactions, so they may be prepared for kindergarten.

"With my daughter I've seen that she's normally bossy. But now she's learning leadership skills...With my son, he does have a behavioral problem but we're working on it together," said Jones.

The day care also provides parenting classes. Jones says she learned something new every year that she has taken the class.

"Some of our parents haven't been parented themselves, so we provide that experiences and really provide an outlet where they can ask questions in terms of their children's development," said Dr. Gaines.

Bright Beginnings' success has lead to a demand in its services, especially when more families are losing jobs in this economy. There is a long waitlist while the day care currently serves 86 children.

"Oh the need is tremendous...but we just don't have the space," said Dr. Gaines.

NOTE: Gannett Foundation, the parent company of WUSA 9, has donated a grant to Bright Beginnings.

Produced by: Elizabeth Jia

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