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2000 Best Practice Symposium

Workshop Session Summary:
Public Housing/Client Services Track

Investing in the Future of Public Housing Children


J. David Reeves, Senior Program Advisor, HUD
Othello Poullard, Project Director, Public Housing Graduates Program, Washington DC
Natii Right, Director, Funds for the Children

Since Children are our future and protecting our future resources is what this workshop is all about. A panel of individuals who are touching the lives of children and young adults gathered to share their experiences with attendees.

David Reeves a senior advisor at HUD stresses that it is imperative for people to realize that learning begins at conception. In his presentation, he went through the different stages in a child’s life cycle and explains how preventative factors can reduce the risk of youth violence. Reeves overwhelming message is that in order for parents and those working with children to be successful, they need to start teaching positive behavior at an early age.

"Working with youths when they are teenagers is too late," says Reeves. "The process must begin at an early age if we are going to ensure the success of children in low-income community."

Reeves explains that housing authorities can help shape children’s lives. To do so, they could do the following: work with parents, provide health education, encourage education, encourage participation in sports and ensure structured playground areas

My little World program is an education curriculum that prepares minority children at the pre-school level through music, animation, and cultural identity. The program identifies with the children’s various cultural background and prepares sessions that grab their attention and keep them informed.

Natii Right, director of Funds for the Children, believes that many children are not interested in schools and become problem children because their histories are not presented so they assume that school is not for them.

Right gave several musical demonstrations of what My Little World uses to grab the children’s attention and keep it. She is presently working with the District of Columbia’s government to get My Little World curriculum implemented in day care centers.

"The best thing I think for children is to really tap into where they are culturally and spiritually," says Right. "Help them find out who they are from their history and you will experience an entirely different child."

The Public Housing Graduate Initiative targets five public housing communities in the District of Columbia. It provides youths in grades 8 through 12 with the support services they need to graduate from high school and go on to college.

"This is an in-depth, long-term, holistic approach to surrogate parenting," says Othello Poullard, project director. "We’re helping youngsters in households where there are no parenting."

This unorthodox program uses incentives to attract and keep its participants. To entice the students, those in grades 8-11 are given $100 per month and 12 graders are given $200 per month while in the program. However to receive this stipend the participants have to attend all mandatory activities, each one missed results in a deduction of $6.

Some of the mandatory activities include attending College or Career Next Year sessions at the University of the District of Columbia, use Standard English and attend counseling sessions.

"We made the idea of going to college too good to give up. No magic, no solid rule," says Poullard. "I’m not an educator, just a caring person who thought I could do something that is possible. It is time to do what works."

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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