Single mom Tiffanie has always believed education is the key to the future, even setting an example for her four children by enrolling in a nurse assistant certification program.
But as a student with no reliable income, when she lost her home after a divorce she and her children, ages 5 – 13, moved between family and friends for months, constantly changing schools. When they finally entered a shelter, school took a back seat to survival.
Then Tiffanie found Family Promise of Lorain County (FP-LC), Ohio.
The family entered the emergency shelter program and began piecing their lives back together, starting with the children’s education.
“Family Promise helped us with school – transportation, uniforms, supplies, everything the kids needed,” Tiffanie says.
Still, the adjustment was difficult, especially for Tiffanie’s oldest son, Antonio. A dedicated student and superior athlete with dreams of professional football, Tiffanie watched her once successful son struggle with school, sports, and his peers. Uncertain how to support him, she turned to Family Promise for counseling and parenting advice.
Meanwhile, her Family Promise case manager helped her explore career options and look for a new home. An entrepreneur at heart, once Tiffanie completed her certification she worked with Family Promise to develop a business plan to open a daycare center.
Finding a new home changed everything. Antonio refocused on academics and athletics, earned a full college scholarship, and plans to study nursing and play football. Oldest daughter Tiaira enrolled in secondary school honors and college-level classes and will graduate high school with a diploma and an associate’s degree, and the two youngest children are thriving in school, following in their older siblings’ footsteps.
Tiffanie currently runs a daycare business out of her home, and Family Promise is helping her look for daycare center space. She has joined FP-LC’s board of directors.
As schools close their doors for the summer, Tiffanie and her family are grateful to be back on track. But Barbara Duffield, Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection, a national nonprofit working to overcome homelessness through education, notes that summer break isn’t about vacation and relaxation for families experiencing a housing crisis.
“School is often the only constant in a homeless child’s life,” she explains. “Over summer break, they lose this stability.”
Duffield’s organization helps communities understand the importance of education, especially as it pertains to children experiencing homelessness.
“These children need education to end the cycle of homelessness and meet their long-term needs: to be housed and successful,” she explains, adding, “There’s a lot of stress and trauma surrounding homelessness. It’s critical that communities understand this and partner with school districts to ensure there’s support for these children.”
Family Promise helps children in need navigate the school year with supplies, transportation, tutoring, and more, but the summer break presents new challenges in identifying activities to keep children occupied, involved, and moving forward. The dedication of volunteers and supporters is what makes this possible, enabling children like Antonio to fulfill his potential and look toward a promising future.
“School is important,” stresses Tiffanie, “but so was keeping our family together. Family Promise helped us with both, and I’m so proud that my children are on a successful path.”