IHN provides a free afterschool program five days a week for children in shelter and permanent housing at the IHN Family Resource Center in Montclair.
Designed to help reduce the significant effects of homelessness on children (see facts below) while providing parents with relief from the cost of childcare, this program includes academic tutoring, enrichment activities, and healthy living education. Teachers from Montclair High School provide pro bono tutoring four day a week to help students increase their proficiency as needed in language arts, math, social studies, science, and history. Enrichment activities take place each Friday and utilize volunteers who often lead a special activity or workshop with the children. If you are interested in volunteering in this program, please contact Angie Benedict.
Facts show that children experiencing homelessness:
(Facts gathered from National Center on Family Homelessness, Coalition for the Homeless, and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.)
Programs for Parents
IHN also offers programs for parents including a parenting group and workshops such as money management, nutrition, and healthy cooking. The Parenting Group is a gathering of moms whose children receive tutoring at IHN. Meeting once a month with Brenda Myrick, IHN director of Social Services and Dr. Pam Joyce of Montclair High School, parents receive guidance for supporting their children's education.
Joyce moderates the sessions, discussing topics such as navigating the educational system to secure services for their children, techniques for helping their students with homework, and more. Parents also have the opportunity to discuss problems their children may be having at school and brainstorm the best ways to help them. At the end of each session, the moms take home "to do" assignments — things they can work on to improve their children’s learning environment.
The classes have been a big hit with parents. They are grateful to have mentors who can give them the support and confidence they need in order to help their children become better students with brighter outcomes.
Children in the IHN Afterschool Program look forward to their Fridays. That’s when they get to participate in a Fun Friday activity. Recently, they walked to the American Red Cross - North Jersey Region, just down the street from IHN and met Eileen Painter, Manager of Volunteer Services, who trained them on how to respond to an emergency. They learned the stop, drop and roll protocol in case of a fire and how to report an emergency by calling 911. In fact, they engaged in role playing to make the training come to life. Lastly, they decorated pillowcases, the brainchild of a college student, that could be used as a quick way to stuff some much-needed belongings in the event of a home evacuation.
On another recent Friday, students again kept it local by walking to the Montclair Police Department. Detective Michael Lococo of the Juvenile Aid Bureau gave them a tour of the Juvenile Department where they saw a holding cell, learning that this was the place where children who committed crimes were detained until their parents could pick them up. He pointed out that small crimes can escalate to big crimes and encouraged the kids to stay on the right path.
The officer also touched on the racial issues that have been in the news and emphasized that police are there to help and that citizens shouldn't be afraid of them. At the end of the tour, the officer handed out items to remind them of their afternoon.