Frequently Asked Questions Family Promise

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Family Promise of Greater Merced : 

Family Promise of Greater Merced

Frequently Asked Questions… : 

Frequently Asked Questions…

Slide 3: 

We don’t have a day center in our community. How should we go about finding one? Most operating day centers for homeless people are not appropriate for the Network program; they are drop-in centers that serve a mixed population, often including single men who live on the streets and are not suitable for families. You should be looking for space for a day center, rather than an operating day center. Most networks find space for a day center in churches, “Y”s, or social service agencies. Some Networks use one large room or find a place with access to several rooms. Essential facilities are a lounge area for families, a play area for children, a small room or cubicle for the Network director (who will provide most of the supervision of the day center), and showers. If showers are not available, the Network needs to install them.

Slide 4: 

How do we handle transportation? Networks usually purchase a van, or a van is loaned or donated to the Network. Some Networks contract with a transportation company that takes care of the van, driver, insurance, and maintenance. Networks that purchase a van usually get the money from foundations that fund capital expenditures.

Slide 5: 

Can we use volunteer van drivers? Family Promise does not recommend using volunteer drivers. For safety and reliability, it’s best to use paid drivers with verified driving experience and safety records. Scheduling problems, which can be time-consuming when volunteer drivers are used, can usually be avoided or minimized by using paid drivers. IHN allows for the people of our suburban community to come into contact with and help the homeless in our own area. Some of our parishioners feel uncomfortable to drive into the inner‑city to help the homeless, but are ready to help when they come into our area. Fr. Bob Klemme, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, Carmel, IN

Slide 6: 

What facilities do host congregations need to have for guests? Facilities must include: lounge area (with sofa, chairs, tables, TV), a dining area, a kitchen, bathrooms, and sleeping accommodations. Ideally, congregations provide a separate room, such as a classroom, for each family. If that isn’t possible, a fellowship hall or other large room can be divided by partitions to provide privacy.

Slide 7: 

Our building is in use almost all the time. How will we find the space? Churches and synagogues are busy places with many demands on their space. Rarely does a perfect space exist. Hosting almost always means making some scheduling adjustments for activities and meetings. For example, four or five times a year, AA or the Bible Study Group may need to move their Tuesday night meeting to another room.

Slide 8: 

Can families’ belongings be moved in the morning and moved back in the evening to permit the congregation to use the space during the day? No. The sleeping accommodations need to be dedicated to the families for the entire host week. The beds and the guests’ belongings must not be moved in the morning and put back in the evening. Besides being cumbersome, moving the beds and the guests’ belongings would be difficult for guests. When guests arrive on Sunday, they come with their belongings and perhaps a few of their children’s favorite toys. They want to arrange their space as if it were their home.

Slide 9: 

How long do families stay in the Network? The Guest Guidelines call for a maximum stay of 30 days. However, Network directors often extend the stay as long as families are making good-faith efforts to find housing. In some communities, families can find housing within 30 days. In other communities—where there is a severe shortage of low-income housing, and waiting lists for public housing and Section 8 are closed—finding a home can take 60 days or more.

Slide 10: 

Where do guest families stay during the day on weekends? In most Networks, families stay at the day center. If the day center space is used for other purposes on weekends, a second day center site for weekends must be secured.

Slide 11: 

How are families referred to the Network? Two weeks before the Network opens, the Network director meets with potential referring agencies—shelters, public assistance offices, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. The director describes the program and provides printed material on how to make referrals. When a homeless family seeks shelter through an agency, a social worker conducts a brief interview and may contact the Network director to find out if space is available. If the answer is yes, and if the family seems appropriate for the Network, the agency refers the family to the day center. At the day center, the Network director conducts an in-depth interview before accepting the family into the Network.

Slide 12: 

Isn’t it difficult for families to move week to week? Moving every week isn’t ideal, but most families say that the homelike setting and the support of volunteers more than compensate for the moving. While host congregations change every week or two, the day center remains the same, providing continuity and a home base for families as they look for housing and jobs. The day center also provides a permanent address that families can use in their housing and job searches.

Slide 13: 

Will the children miss school because their families are staying in different congregations every week or two? No. The Network director works with the school system to ensure that all children attend school. The day center is the permanent address of the Network. Children go to the school they have been attending or to the school nearest the day center. Arrangements are made locally with the school system. In 1987, Congress passed the McKinney Act, legislation that requires all states and school districts to provide for the education of homeless youth. Each state has developed a plan to implement the Act. Most of the state plans are flexible and allow children to attend the school they last attended or the school closest to the shelter (day center).

Slide 14: 

What are the insurance implications of participating in the Network? Does the congregation have to amend its policy? Each local Network must carry general liability insurance. Congregations are usually covered by their own property and liability policies because IHN is considered to be an outreach ministry, a regular activity of the church like a youth sleepover or Friday night supper. Most congregations find they do not need extra insurance to be hosts. To be certain, each congregation must contact its insurance agent.

Slide 15: 

How much money is needed to start a Network? First-year budgets can range from $90,000 to $125,000, depending on whether a van is purchased and whether rent must be paid for the day center. Most Networks find that first-year operating budgets are about $90,000. Family Promise recommends that Networks have at least one third of this amount on hand before opening. “The IHN program has allowed us to give names to so many more church community members. New people have volunteered to help our guests, and made us more united. Together, we witness Jesus' loving service.” Fr. Cassian Lewinski, St. Catherine's Newman Center, Salt Lake City, UT

Slide 16: 

How do we raise the money? Funds are raised locally from individuals, congregations, foundations, and corporations. Religious judicatories (regional denominational offices, such as the Presbytery, Methodist Conference, and Episcopal Diocese) often provide seed money, as well as ongoing funds. Local foundations within your county or state may also provide seed money.

Slide 17: 

How long does it take to develop a Network? Some Networks have developed in 10 months, while others have taken a year and a half, or longer. Usually a Network becomes operational about 12 to 18 months after the Community Meeting. The most important and time-consuming part of forming a Network is recruiting the host congregations. Networks that plan for and emphasize recruitment get there faster.

Slide 18: 

Do we really need to hire a full-time Network director? Can’t a staff member from another agency manage the Network on a part-time basis? You will need to hire a full-time Network director. A unique strength of the Network program is the intensive case management that a full-time director provides to homeless families. In addition to case management, the director coordinates and trains volunteers and is responsible for the overall management of the program. Without a dedicated professional in the Network, families would not receive the services that help make the program so successful.

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