Bright Beginnings is deeply committed to supporting our children’s parents and working closely with them to help their children succeed. For example, we require that all parents attend the first half of their child’s first day of school to meet the teachers and learn about the curriculum. Our monthly parent-teacher meetings keep parents updated on their child’s progress and how they can support their child’s education outside the classroom. Our training programs and events keep parents engaged and active participants at Bright Beginnings. Parents are also encouraged to volunteer in the classrooms, serve as chaperones on fieldtrips, and participate on the Parent Policy Committee, which reviews and approves all programs and operating budgets.
Bright Beginnings’ family service team works one-on-one with families to identify personal challenges, set goals to overcome obstacles and achieve self-sufficiency. After making sure families meet their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing, the family service staff addresses the personal, environmental and societal causes of the family’s homelessness. Social workers provide parents with referrals to food banks, housing, legal support, education programs and job training. We help parents find employment, finish their education and secure permanent housing. Bright Beginnings alleviates a major source of anxiety for homeless parents by providing their children with a safe, nurturing, secure learning environment while they stabilize their lives.
Bright Beginnings offers a unique opportunity for parents interested in working in the field of early childhood development. Through the Parent Aide Program, parents work part-time at Bright Beginnings and gain valuable on-the-job training as they pursue their Child Development Associate (CDA) certification. Parent Aides participate in all on-site staff development training and receive regular supervision and support in the classroom.
The constant stress of uncertain family conditions is difficult for young children living in homeless environments. Bright Beginnings helps parents understand the importance of providing a stable home life for their children and helps families make smooth transitions into permanent housing. Once a family moves into permanent housing, their children remain in the program for the remainder of the school year to minimize disruption. The family service team then helps parents identify appropriate child development centers in their new neighborhood well in advance of their move.
When a child leaves Bright Beginnings to enroll in kindergarten, the family service team helps parents select the most appropriate kindergarten program for their child and obtain all necessary information for enrollment. Social workers also accompany parents on visits to new schools prior to enrollment and assist them with the enrollment process. Our teaching staff also helps prepare children for the transition to kindergarten through field trips to a kindergarten classroom and open dialogue that reduces anxieties and fears.