Coming together to help kids start the school year strong

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Coming together to help kids start the school year strong

Categories: Back to School, Blog, Get Involved, News, Volunteer

On average, our domestic violence shelters serve upwards of 30 children every day, many of whom are in grades kindergarten through 12. For parents fleeing an abusive situation, navigating the unknown can be daunting – getting kids back to school often adds to an already-overwhelming situation.  Through a variety of onsite programs and community partners, YWCA Dayton provides comprehensive support for the families we serve before and after the school year begins. 

The McKinney-Vento Act
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is a federal law that covers children and youth living in domestic violence shelters and ensures they can continue attending their same school, and receive transportation to that school, no matter where they live or how long they’ve lived there. 

Our children’s program team works with district liaisons throughout the Miami Valley, who serve as advocates for the children in our shelter and housing programs, ensuring families have the tools they need for things like enrollment, transportation and student assessments.  

YWishList & Back2School Festival
Each July, we issue a call for donations of school supplies that, once collected, are distributed to children in shelter and those participating in our youth programs. This year, community members stepped up big time donating nearly twice the amount of supplies from our Back-to-School wish list, which were either sent to us through Amazon Smile or dropped off at our shelter. 

Held at our Huber Heights Campus, this year’s Back2School Festival was a warm afternoon of fun for the families we serve. The Aug. 13 event provided families one last blast of summer through a variety of carnival-themed games, exciting entertainment, tasty treats and a school supply giveaway.  

Truly a team effort, more than 30 YW staff and volunteers, and community partners, helped spread smiles to those in attendance. While some partners brought fun activities, others were on hand to speak with families about community resources available throughout the year. Partners included:  

  • Girls on the Run
  • Junior League of Dayton
  • Greater Dayton Premier Management
  • Miami Valley Works
  • The Conscious Connect
  • All About Dance & So Much More
  • Dayton Public Schools
  • Dayton Metro Library
  • The Game Cave

Volunteer Brie Hope has been giving her time to YWCA Dayton for nearly five years. Upon noticing a need for face painters on VolunteerMatch, she signed up, excited to contribute her artistic skills during the Back2School Festival.  

“I love volunteering with YWCA Dayton, and the mission of supporting and protecting women and children.” Hope said. “Being able to help in different capacities over the years has been a real joy. Face painting during the Back2School Festival was an especially fun mix of imagination and creativity. 

While a hit with many at the event, a few face painting participants left lasting impressions. 

“One little boy was very enthused about a Pikachu design,” Hope said. “He had to be sure the cheeks were perfectly red and round. Another little girl wanted to be a bunny, and I was pleased to give her big puffy cheeks and whiskers.” 

After the event, one client shared that her four children had fun and expressed appreciation for the school supplies her children received.  

Afterschool Activities
Not only should kids have a great day at school, it’s also important they find a safe, supportive environment once they return home.  

Studies show that food security – having reliable access to a sufficient amount of food – can affect learning as early as kindergarten. In addition to the three meals a day we provide to all families in shelter, our food services team serves fresh, nutritious snacks to students after school and plans to add more snack time offerings in the future.  

Food program manager Tiffanie Green tries to create a positive experience through a variety of healthy options: granola bars, fresh fruit, cereal (bowls of cereal are always a hit!), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, popcorn, chips and veggies. 

Once the kids are fueled and fed, it’s time to hit the books! Through the McKinney-Vento Act, YW is able to offer homework assistance after the school day ends. Local partnerships with businesses like Black woman-owned Fail Me Not Tutoring have allowed us to continue offering services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which will continue to be available to families this fall.  

Do you or someone you know need help? It starts with a call. Our crisis and domestic violence hotline is open 24/7/365: 937-222-SAFE (7233). Able to contribute to give children in shelter a successful school-year start? Find our Back-to-School donation wish list HERE.