For most parents, getting a child ready for kindergarten is an exciting and nervous time. While some are buying backpacks and crayons for their child, other families have to choose between the electrical bill and new shoes. CEDARS Youth Services is working with some of those families by providing holistic support for families with young children.
With a mission of providing safety and stability for families, the nonprofit has developed a new initiative to provide education and access to resources for families facing instability. In 2016, Lincoln Community Foundation provided a grant to help launch the program.
CEDARS is working to break the cycle of poverty by educating families on how to prioritize finances, access affordable housing, and gain employment. While most people have a birth certificate or a driver’s license needed to gain employment, some living in poverty do not have access to these essentials we take for granted.
“If you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a family must have their basic needs, such as housing, met before a need like education can be fulfilled,” said Christen Million, Early Childhood and Family Specialist for CEDARS. Million works directly with families in the program and helps the parents prioritize between paying bills and updating their driver’s license. “We help them find and access those resources,” said Million.
When asked where the program is headed, Million says the focus is helping families become self-sufficient. Once the basic needs are met and a family has gained some stability, they are able to focus on their child’s education needs.
Every family deserves the support needed to prosper in life. CEDARS Early Childhood programs provide a blanket of holistic support that vulnerable families in Lincoln need. When the basic needs of a family are met, parents can focus on getting their child ready for the new school year.