New partnership supports families experiencing homelessness

December 12, 2023

Venice Family Clinic and The Midnight Mission have teamed up to support the needs of families with young children experiencing homelessness in Inglewood. In this new partnership, the Clinic is opening a new Early Head Start (EHS) center on-site for families residing at HomeLight Family Living, a program of The Midnight Mission.

The Clinic’s new EHS location on-site at HomeLight Family Living is its third center in the area. The Clinic turned a garage space at the HomeLight residential building into a fully functioning classroom, kitchen, office, bathroom, sleeping area and breastfeeding room. The adjacent outdoor space now features two new separate playgrounds designed for infants and toddlers.

“We’re proud to unite with The Midnight Mission in a shared goal of providing comprehensive support to the children and families living at HomeLight,” said Stacey Scarborough, director of the Clinic’s EHS program. “Through this new partnership, we are protecting the growth and development of young children from the negative consequences of homelessness. And by building the EHS center on-site, we’ve reduced barriers for families living there to participate – they just bring their child downstairs and gain all the benefits of the program.”

The Midnight Mission is the longest-running human services organization in the Los Angeles region. The HomeLight Family Living program provides safe, clean housing and support services, including education, career preparedness, counseling and life skills, to families working their way out of homelessness.

HomeLight was a natural fit for a co-located site of Venice Family Clinic’s EHS program, which served more than 50 unhoused families in 2022. EHS provides child development and family support services, including medical care, dental care, education for children, parent training, behavioral health support and dedicated family advocates for eligible low-income families with children ages 0-3.

Making a difference

The formal partnership may be new, but the Clinic’s EHS program has been working with families at HomeLight since 2012. Families like Lorena’s, who, with the help of EHS home visitor Edith Ojeda, finished earning her GED and reached parenting goals while living at the Inglewood HomeLight complex.

Lorena had walked a rough road until this point: She had struggled with substance use, been in an abusive relationship and lost custody of her two older children. This last event was a wake-up call and motivated her to complete a rehabilitation program and leave her abuser. Lorena was then able to get a referral to live in HomeLight with her baby and she enrolled in Venice Family Clinic’s EHS program.

On their first home visit, Edith helped Lorena set goals for herself and her infant daughter, which included developing a loving relationship with all her children and encouraging her daughter to crawl independently. Lorena also wanted to get a high school diploma and regain custody of her older son.

After their home visits, Lorena diligently put into practice the activities Edith taught her to promote her baby’s growth and development. Within two months, she proudly shared a video with Edith of her daughter reaching a milestone: crawling by herself.

With support from Edith and a HomeLight case manager, Lorena also overcame the obstacles that had previously prevented her from attending class regularly and turning in her homework on time to get that coveted diploma. She also got full custody of her son. Edith and HomeLight’s housing navigator also helped Lorena apply for her own apartment through a supportive program that subsidizes rent, and she is currently on a waiting list.

“With the support of both HomeLight Family Living and Venice Family Clinic’s EHS program, families like Lorena’s are able to get back on their feet, often after experiencing many hardships,” said Ricardo Rosales, director of HomeLight Family Living. “By having the EHS program on-site at our residential center, we hope to replicate the extraordinary accomplishments Lorena has made with many other families in the years to come.”