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The Institute for Child Success (ICS) has partnered with the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy’s Greenville County Care Coordination Collaborative (GCCCC). ICS is leading work on the new Childhood Homelessness Project, which aims to address the issues of housing instability and family homelessness in Greenville County. The goal of this pilot year is to develop a deep understanding of the child homelessness landscape and to create a plan for to improve family housing stability as well as child health and education outcomes.

Over the next year, ICS will:

  • lead the Childhood Homelessness Project, mostly notably through the development of a Landscape and Unmet Need Analysis. This document will utilize existing resources from Greenville’s community working on housing as well as incorporate information on services and policies in effect both countywide and is specific areas most specifically impacted by instability;
  • identify and build partnerships, including establishing a Steering Committee to work on these issues.ICS will work with current GCCCC members to conduct a stakeholder analysis and develop a list of entities for regular working group sessions.
  • organize a community listening tour, which will provide an opportunity for feedback from local service providers, community stakeholders, and families. ICS and the Steering Committee will use information from the Landscape Analysis and Unmet Need report to select three communities in Greenville County to host listening sessions, aiming for a diversity of locations with differing demographics and challenges, and incorporating feedback from these sessions into the design of the project.
  • design the implementation phase of theproposed initiative. The Strategic Plan will highlight challenges and opportunities for addressing childhood homelessness and instability as well as potential funding opportunities to consider and next steps for addressing issues on the ground. The plan will outline key steps over the next 3 years to address issues identified in the Landscape Analysis and Listening Tour and will be revised in two phases based on feedback of Steering Committee members. All partners recognize that sustainable funding will be necessary to implement the workplan identified in this first year. ICS will identify potential funding sources to support the Project moving forward and will contribute, as needed, to preparing GCCCC for a successful funding application.

Why focus on housing?

According to the Greenville County’s Affordable Housing Study, 51 percent of students in the Greenville County School District (South Carolina) live at or below the federal poverty level; the number of homeless students has increased 113 percent since 2012.

Housing instability and homelessness are key barriers to healthy childhoods in which children and families flourish. The issue is much more complex that just ensuring individuals have a roof to sleep under. Family heath, economic well-being, geography, transportation, and cultural expectations all play a role in the housing decisions families make, and the impacts housing has on health and well-being.

Housing is a key social determinant of health. The physical environments and communities in which children live play a significant role in their overall well-being and development. Young children who experience housing disruptions may form fewer secure attachments, which are linked to language and social-emotional development. For school-aged children, frequent moves are linked to chronic absence and poor academic outcomes. Each school change is associated with up to 6 months of learning loss.

Even for children whose housing is secure, low-quality housing presents safety concerns for children such as lead exposure and asthma-inducing causes. Lead exposure puts children at increased risk for developmental delays, IQ deficits, lower academic achievement, poor social-emotional development, behavior problems, slowed growth, and anemia. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 35 percent of low-income housing units nationwide have lead-based paint. Structural defects, like leaking pipes and old carpets, can worsen and intensify asthma symptoms. In South Carolina, 9 percent of children experience asthma problems.

Background on partners

The Greenville County Community Care Collaborative (GCCCC) is comprised of diverse organizations serving children and families, including educational organizations, health-care providers, mental and behavioral health programs, home-visiting programs, state agencies, community-based providers, and legal and advocacy organizations. For more information on the launch of this initiative, please see this recent piece in the Greenville Journal. Loretta Crowley, manager of Community Pediatrics in the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy, is GCCCC co-facilitator and the GCCCC’s contact on this project.

The ICS contact on this project is Megan Carolan, Director of Policy Research.

The project will be shaped by community engagement and guided by the members of our esteemed Steering Committee.

  • Lorain Crowl – Executive Director, United Housing Connections
  • Jed Dews – Executive Director, Pendleton Place
  • Dawn Downden – Chief Operating Officer, Homes of Hope
  • Irene Hamilton-Jones – Homeless Education Liasion; McKinney-Vento Coordinator, Greenville County Schools
  • Deb Long – Director of Healthy Community Initiatives, Bon Secours St Francis Health System
  • Susan McClarty – Coordinator, Greenville Homeless Alliance
  • Tony McDade – Executive Director, United Ministries
  • Shealy Reibold – Health Policy Director, Furman University’s Institute for the Advancement of Community Health
  • Kate Weaver Patterson – Managing Attorney and Site Director for the South Carolina Second Chance Justice Collaborative
  • Katy Smith – Executive Director, Piedmont Health Foundation
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