With more than 600 homeless children in D.C. there is an urgent need to help care for them as their parents struggle to find work and permanent housing. For two decades, Bright Beginnings has been the answer to many of those parents' prayers.
It's a safe haven for homeless infants, toddlers and preschoolers. It's also a place where young children in a very tough situation find stability and encouragement.
"Many of the children that attend Bright Beginnings have special needs when they walk in the door," says Betty Jo Gaines, the Executive Director. "Children may not be able to verbally express their frustration in terms of moving from one place to another, but they can feel the stress that their parents are going through."
The program not only helps the children learn, it also provides therapeutic services like counseling to help them with the stresses of being homeless.
Loretta Jones and her two children spent six months in a homeless shelter and are now in transitional housing.
"I trust everyone on the staff, I truly do, and I'm not a trusting person at all," says Jones. "Bright Beginnings is the most stability that I've had in a long time."
While the parents are working, or trying to find work, the children are gaining the skills they'll need to start Kindergarten. They're also fed warm meals.
"They're not only teaching the kids, they're teaching the parents as well. I do the parenting classes every year and I learn something new every year," says Jones.