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Pathways to Brighter Futures

cfpdc2013org-DoorwaysforWomenandFamilies-94291-2541 Doorways for Women and Families is a local nonprofit, community service organization that creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault leading to safe, stable and empowered lives. The causes of family homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault are profound and varied.

Doorways works to break the cycles of poverty and violence through every interaction we have with our clients and by advocating for systemic policy change. We are successful because we treat each person as an individual, tailoring our programs and services to help every adult and child we serve overcome trauma, build life skills and ultimately unlock their full potential. From immediate crisis intervention to counseling, housing and employment support, we offer real options and multiple pathways to build brighter futures.

Together with our community, Doorways puts thousands of adults, youth and children on paths to brighter futures by providing:

  • An immediate, safe response to our neighbors in crisis, including Arlington’s only 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881)
  • Safe housing options, from emergency shelter through long-term housing, including Arlington’s only Domestic Violence Safehouse, Safe Apartments and Safe Kennel
  • Comprehensive support services that help our clients achieve and maintain stability, including Children’s Services

At Doorways, we have an unofficial motto coined by one of our team members: “Do for; Do with; Cheer on.”

When clients first arrive at Doorways, they are escaping crisis; basic needs such as safety and shelter are their top priority. In the beginning, we “do for” our clients by seeing to these immediate needs for them. Next, we “do with” our clients by partnering with them to set goals for their brighter futures. Through trauma-informed counseling and other tailored services, we help clients address the underlying causes of homelessness and violence and teach them critical skills for achieving and maintaining stability. Finally, we “cheer on” our clients when they are ready to take steps on their own, celebrating their independence while continuing to support their journeys.

From our immediate response to safe shelter and housing to our Comprehensive Service Model, Doorways empowers our clients every step of the way. Learn more about Doorways unique approach at www.DoorwaysVA.org/our-approach.

Who We Serve

Doorways serves our community’s most vulnerable members: families experiencing homelessness and survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Experiencing any one of these in your life is traumatic, but many of Doorways clients have experienced all three. Family homelessness and domestic and sexual violence impact everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. We serve women, men, youth and children; in fact, more than half of Doorways clients are kids. Meet three of our amazing clients, Christina, Erica and Khadeejah, and hear about their journeys firsthand:

 

Hope for a Brighter Future

While the issues of family homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault may seem too pervasive to solve, we know that, together, we can make a difference. Doorways envisions a community where all people live free of violence and have safe and stable housing.

Through the generosity of our partners and supporters, Doorways empowers our most vulnerable neighbors to survive crisis, rebuild their lives and achieve brighter futures. In so doing, we help break intergenerational cycles of homelessness and abuse, building the brightest possible future for those we serve and our shared community. The strength, courage and resilience of the women, men, youth and children we serve inspire us each and every day.

Sharing in our belief in their potential and hope for our clients brighter futures, Doorways dedicated and generous supporters enable us to respond to the increasing demand for safety and the growing complexity of the needs of survivors and families seeking self-sufficiency, despite the uncertain, restrictive funding climate that threatens our ability to deliver lasting change in our client’s well-being.

Court Advocacy

Everyone’s journey to a brighter future is different each individual has their own story, needs, goals and dreams; their pathways vary. We celebrate victories big and seemingly small: a baby’s homecoming or first steps; a mother’s new, better paying job; a family’s new apartment; a young man’s breakthrough in counseling; a child’s creation in art therapy. Each step forward makes for a great day at Doorways.

We also know that the challenges that arise along the way are part of the journey, and we’re here to help our clients face and overcome them. We’re humbled to be part of their life and see the transformation that is possible. Through Doorways, this support has helped our most vulnerable neighbors achieve the following in the last couple years:

  • 90% of clients experiencing intimate partner violence enhanced their safety by developing a safety plan, obtaining a legal protective order, and/or receiving accompaniment for emergency medical treatment post sexual assault.
  • 87% of households experiencing homelessness exited to safe housing.
  • 95% of children with social-emotional issues received services and treatment to address their needs.
  • 80% of adults improved or maintained employment or earning capacity, and nearly 70% built savings.

Join Our Cause

The time is now. The need for Doorways programs and services has never been greater. Over the past two years, every Doorways program serving survivors of violence has grown. Last year alone, Doorways responded to 1,347 calls to our 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline impacting 2,206 adults and children a record number in the organization’s history.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America. This month offers opportunities to raise awareness about sexual violence and resources available to survivors in our community, including our 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline, Hospital Accompaniment for survivors seeking medical attention, Court Advocacy, and our Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program, which offers individual and group counseling to survivors of all ages.

Visit www.DoorwaysVA.org/saam to learn how to participate in our awareness days and events, and how to help raise awareness during SAAM. Go to www.DoorwaysVA.org/join-our-cause for ways to stay involved all year long.

Making Positive Life Changes at Friends of Guest House

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Friends of Guest House is a safe place in Northern Virginia for women to successfully re-enter the community after incarceration. While residing at Friends of Guest House the women have the opportunity to secure employment, obtain mental health and medical services, build community connections, and attain stable housing.

Each day we strive to challenge our clients to make positive life changes while also challenging the local community to disregard the stigma of ex-offenders. One of our former residents expressed her goals and the challenges of the preconceived opinion society has of her through a poem:

What do you see when you look at me?
Do you see a project to help you learn something?
or at first do you see a person going through things?
Do you imagine yourself to be better than me?

Oh enlighten me on what you see.
Do you see all the potential that I am trying to unleash?
Or maybe you just see the number that was given to me.

Oh ma’am, oh sir, tell me that you see a better life for me.

Well let me discuss what I see.
I see getting it by any and all means,
a growth that the eye cannot see.
Look into the future and that?s all I need
and maybe then you will be asking me
What do you see?

Our program has demonstrated that re-entry support is essential to breaking the cycle of crime and repeated incarceration. Without support, when returning to the community 70% of ex-offenders re-offend within two years. These numbers change drastically for Friends of Guest House graduates: fewer than 10% re-offend. With this in mind, our program offers three levels of support: Residential, Aftercare, and Outreach.

IMG_0218Our Executive Director, Kari Galloway, works tirelessly to ensure that the organization offers full support to the women we serve. She recently reached her 12-year anniversary with Friends of Guest House. Without her, the program would not be as strong and successful as it currently is. She inspires the staff to work hard and, more importantly, she inspires the women to succeed. Not only does she provide the encouragement and support to each client but she holds them accountable for their actions and offers the constructive criticism they need.

One of the biggest challenges for our clients is securing safe and affordable housing in the DMV. In order to afford the housing opportunities in the local area, our clients need to be able to find job opportunities that offer advancement and growth. Currently clients typically secure minimum wage positions and struggle to afford the local cost of living. Unfortunately, these women will typically decide to return home to unhealthy environments that challenge their sobriety and success.

We hope to address both the need for affordable housing and career oriented jobs through our most recent initiatives. The Workforce Development Program is a six-week program that allows clients to develop their resume, learn interviewing techniques, and obtain an internship and eventually a career. We are also piloting a subsidized transitional house for Aftercare and Outreach clients scheduled to open later this month.

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Come see our beautiful clients in action on April 4th at Sara Campbell’s Boutique 320 Prince Street – in Old Town, Alexandria from 6-8pm for a Friends of Guest House fashion show featuring current clients! It’ll be a fun evening to learn more about partnering with our organization while pampering our clients and giving them some time in the spotlight!

Friends of Guest House always welcomes volunteers, donations, and questions. Please visit us at www.friendsofguesthouse.org for contact information!

Hello My Sunshine People! Transforming Lives with Open Arms Housing

by Marilyn Kresky-Wolff, Executive Director, Open Arms Housing, Inc.

Open Arms Housing, Inc. (OAH) establishes homes for some of the most vulnerable women in Washington, D.C.
blog-march13Janet Starke waves to a passing neighbor outside of her new home in N.E. D.C. With support from Open Arms Housing, women like Janet, who were previously homeless, have moved into permanent homes with a welcoming and supportive environment.(Photo credit: Kate Patterson/For The Washington Post)

This Women’s History Month, we think of women in need of housing who have been overlooked for many years who finally have a place to call home.

Our mission is to provide permanent supportive housing for women who have a wide range of mental and physical challenges, and who have lived for prolonged periods on the streets and in shelters.

Open Arms offers individualized services in welcoming environments, using a Housing First approach. The Housing First approach does not require agreement to mental health treatment or sobriety as a criteria for obtaining housing, which is important to expedite getting women off the street and out of shelters. Our vision is to be a leader in the eradication of long-term homelessness for women in Washington, DC who have a variety of mental health and physical challenges.

During this year’s Women’s History Month, we are excited to report a growing national spotlight on the women we house. Open Arms is proud to be among agencies across the country who are engaging in a national campaign called the “One in Four Initiative”. This initiative addresses the stunning fact that 25% of the nation’s homeless population is female and seeks to identify how their needs differ, as well as highlight solutions to meet their needs; from housing alternatives that build community, to treatment modalities that recognize an almost universal experience of sexual and physical trauma, to the opportunity to reawaken needs for self-expression, creativity, and self-worth.

OAH has long recognized the need for specially designed housing services for women. Single buildings, with onsite support services and activities are critical. OAH developed two buildings with efficiency or one-bedroom units, equipped with full kitchen appliances and private bathroom, onsite support service staff, and overnight resident assistance.

A wonderful day at OAH is when one of our longest residing residents says “Hello my sunshine people!!” Or one in which a woman for the first time accepts mental health services with a caring professional…or paints a canvas in art class…or reaches out to a fellow resident who has suffered a loss in her family…or testifies before the D.C. City Council on the need for affordable housing… or tells her personal story of recovery.

Over the next few months, we look forward to finding housing in the wider community for 51 additional women, through a new contract from the D.C. Department of Human Services, which will more than triple the number we currently help. We will be able to offer greater choice in housing, with case managers providing mobile services and linkage to community resources. Each person’s case manager will help her move in, furnish the apartment, make adjustments to living in the community, coordinate the community services, and support her efforts to live independently.

At OAH, we measure outcomes such as 95% housing stabilization rate, 85% resident satisfaction, 100% resident engagement in relationship with support staff, 95% participation in program activities, 70% of participation in mental health and/or substance abuse treatment, and 95% application for all financial benefits for which client is eligible.

Help us support the new residents of our Permanent Supportive Housing Program by donating “Move-in bags” with household supplies, personal hygiene products, and linens.
Join us for An Evening of Food, Drinks and Celebration in Rockville, MD on March 30th at 6:30 – R.S.V.P. to marilyn@openarmshousing.org For more information, please contact us at info@openarsmhousing or call 202-525-3467.

Do More 24

There’s still time! Nonprofit organizations across the region are participating in DoMore24 (until midnight tonight!) a day of giving towards community causes. So many of “the best” charities featured in the Catalogue are raising funds today — for soccer uniforms, to publish teen authored books, to provide legal services to homeless individuals and low-income refugees and so much more.

Need some inspiration? Check out our listing of great nonprofits here!

And as a bonus, several of our charities have matching funds to double the impact of your gift today. Take a look at these Catalogue charities, listed by category:

ARTS

ENVIRONMENT & COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

EDUCATION

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

Around Town 11/1-11/7

Happy November! Catalogue nonprofits are kicking off the month right with lots of great events all around the area. Let us know if you are heading to one (and you never know, you might even see us there!). Don’t have time to get out to an event? Request a copy of our brand new catalogue (out on November 1st!) and get to know our new class of nonprofits!
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Guest Post: HomeAid Northern Virginia

Catalogue nonprofit HomeAid Northern Virginia is in the business of connecting local housing organizations and emergency shelters with professional homebuilders, trade partners, and sub-contractors who can offer the best renovations at the lowest costs. In this guest blog post, Executive Director Christy Eaton discusses one partnership that helped change the lives of hundreds of homeless residents. Read more about HomeAid Northern Virginia on their website, and learn more about other Catalogue nonprofits working to end homelessness here.

Public-Private Partnership Results in Renovation for Transitional Housing Program – and Brings Hope to Formerly Homeless Women and Families

By Christy Eaton, Executive Director, HomeAid Northern Virginia

The Washington, D.C., area is the ninth most expensive place to live in the U.S., with area homeowners averaging $8,798 in monthly living expenses and renters averaging $6,444 (Council for Community and Economic Research). In Virginia, 15 percent of children are living in poverty (Kids Count).

In Northern Virginia, home to some of the nation’s richest counties, nearly 1,000 children in families were identified as being homeless in 2012 (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments).

It’s a dichotomy that HomeAid Northern Virginia has been seeking to change since we were established in 2001. We have built and renovated homeless shelters, transitional houses and other facilities throughout Northern Virginia in an effort to end homelessness in a region where many think no such problems exist. But we don’t do it alone: working with homebuilders, trade partners, government officials, and private and corporate donors, we have completed 77 projects with a retail value of nearly $12 million more than half of which was donated and has allowed service providers the ability to focus millions more of their funding on programs and services for their clients rather than on facility repairs. Together, we’ve given new hope to more than 20,000 individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet in our region.

What is perhaps most critical to our success is our ability to develop public-private partnerships between homebuilders, non-profits and government agencies. For one of our most recent projects, a $250,000 renovation of eight apartments at the Loudoun Transitional Housing Program, we brought together the Loudoun County government, which owns the property; Volunteers of America Chesapeake, which operates the transitional housing program at the shelter; and homebuilders Miller & Smith and Winchester Homes to lead the renovation, along with 32 trade partners, suppliers and manufacturers.

I worked closely with builder captain project managers Scott Alford, operations manager, Miller & Smith, and Brian Phebus, director of production, Winchester Homes; Russell K. Snyder, president of Volunteers of America Chesapeake; and Hope Stonerook, deputy director of the Loudoun County Department of Family Services. Together, as a team, we were able to bring this project to completion, on time and on budget. It was a partnership in the truest sense of the word, and everyone throughout Loudoun County will benefit.

The homeless families and single women who live in the transitional shelter are, of course, among our greatest beneficiaries. Living in well-designed, high-quality homes returns much-needed dignity to peoples lives and boosts their self-esteem, allowing formerly homeless clients to regain confidence and long-term stability.

In fact, Scott York, Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, pointed out that providing housing and supportive services to homeless families and single women has had very real impact: “Since the Department of Family Services began managing the program in 2006,” he said, “more than 200 individuals have been served. In the last five years, 96 percent of the people discharged from the program have moved to a permanent housing situation.”

Upon seeing their new apartments for the first time, we heard one mom say, “I was completely shocked to see the new rooms; what a feeling to have the help my family and I are getting through this program, and to be able to come back each day to these rooms. They’re like luxury apartments, and they make me feel worth something.”

Interestingly, the Loudoun facility was, according to Hope Stonerook, a joint effort between the County and the building industry when it was first built in 1991. “Even then,” she said, “the County donated the land, and the building industry donated the materials and labor.”

Finding two Builder Captains to take on the job of renovating all eight apartments this year was not difficult: Miller & Smith has worked with HomeAid Northern Virginia on nearly 10 other projects, and Winchester Homes has served as Builder Captain for a half-dozen of our projects over the years. Both companies are committed to corporate philanthropy, have made giving back a core value, and are always among the first to step up and do whatever it takes to help us make a difference in the lives of those who need help.

For this project, all eight apartments now feature entirely new kitchens with granite countertops, seating and custom-designed tables with peninsula tops; upgraded bathrooms with custom shelving; laminate hardwood flooring in the entry and living areas; improved light fixtures, electrical systems and plumbing work; built-in storage by each bed; bedding, doors, blinds and wire closet shelving systems; and interior furnishings.

Interior design team, Carlyn and Company Interiors + Design, helped maximize functionality of the relatively small apartment spaces, focusing on maximizing storage and reconfiguring the living space. They transformed plain, small apartments into homes that residents could feel proud of.

For the $250,000 project, 87 percent of the total cost was donated by builders, trade partners and HomeAid. The remaining cost, a little more than $30,000, was paid by Volunteers of America Chesapeake. There was zero cost to Loudoun County taxpayers.

“We couldn’t have imagined the transformation made possible by this partnership,” Volunteers of America’s Russ Snyder told me, “and because of it, we can change lives and give people independence. So many people in our communities are living on the edge due to loss of employment; loss of primary support in the household; domestic violence; medical or mental health issues; and a lack of affordable housing and without fail they’ve always been thankful for whatever we could provide them. But we knew that they could have a much better experience through this renovation. They’ll be happy to come home now.”

I knew Russ was right when I heard another mom say, “I think that these rooms are really good for my children. They see these rooms, and they know that there are people who care about us. These rooms give all of us something to work toward – the people who did this for us are God’s angels.”

Smart renovations and design maximized the functionality of eight apartments at the Loudoun Transitional Housing Program, turning small, stark spaces into beautiful, welcoming ones.

Before:

After:

Investing in Ending Homelessness

It’s budget season in DC, and the nonprofit/social sector community has been rallying lately around several different budget priorities for FY2014. We’ve written before about the One City Fund and the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region circulated a petition to fully fund adult literacy programs. Today, another issue caught our eye on the DC Fair Budget Coalition’s blog about tackling homelessness in the District. Many Catalogue nonprofits currently work with individuals and families experiencing homelessness in DC (as well as Maryland and Virginia), and we’ve shared posts before from organizations like Washington Legal Counsel for the Homeless and FACETS. In this article, Danielle Rothman from the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project shares her experience working at DC General and urges the DC City Council to fully fund the Housing First and Local Rent Supplement Programs tenant-based voucher programs in 2014.

A key theme in this piece is the fact that falling on hard times and into homelessness can happen to anyone. The profile of a struggling single mother who kept fighting for herself and her daughter, only to face an onslaught of new challenges, inspires compassion even for those most removed from poverty in the Greater Washington area:

Nicole is a 30-year-old woman with a knock-out smile. She exudes warmth and joy, and when she greets you with one of her signature hugs, you can’t help but feel a little happier. Nicole’s 7-year-old daughter, Taylor, is a bubbly little girl, with a flair for drama and a mischievous sparkle in her eye. If you saw Nicole and Taylor walking down the street, you might notice their close relationship, or maybe the energy they radiate. Perhaps you wouldn’t notice them at all, because they seem so much like any other mother-daughter pair. You would probably never guess that Nicole and Taylor are residents of the DC General Emergency Family Shelter, DC’s largest shelter for homeless families. You would certainly not be able to imagine the countless ordeals that they have been through…

Nicole’s ordeals included drug-addicted and absent parents, sexual assault, raising a daughter alone, and the financial pressures of students loans and family illness, and then her daughter’s own experience with sexual abuse. Each one of those challenges is more than most of us probably experience in a decade. And, Rothman notes, Nicole is not alone:

In my two years of working at DC General with the Playtime project, I have met a college educated mother of two who lost everything when she escaped domestic violence, a family where both parents lost jobs they’d had for years, a father who had to leave his job after his wife left because he could not find evening day care for his two little girls, and even a mother who used to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Much like Nicole, she never thought she would end up living in a shelter herself. These stories are common, and they are powerful reminders that homelessness can happen to anyone. We as a community must pull together to support these families and help them find solid ground again.

The DC City Council has the opportunity to help address the challenges faced by Nicole, and others staying at DC General and homeless shelters around town, by funding the programs mentioned above. However, the responsibility to help and make a difference goes beyond our local government, and lies with each member of the Greater Washington community. Consider getting involved with a Catalogue nonprofit that works with those experiencing hunger or homeless as a donor, volunteer, or advocate – more information online here.

Around Town: April 27-28

Looking for a great way to spend your weekend? Catalogue nonprofits have great events that you can not only attend, but volunteer at as well!! If you go to an event, tweet about it using hashtag #CatalogueCheers!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Race to End Poverty

A Wider Circle
Featuring a 4K run/walk and a tot trot! In 2012, A Wider Circle furnished 3,650 homes. This year, we hope to furnish 4,000 homes – 4K! Run or walk on April 27 and help us accomplish a 4K in service! Enter as an individual, as a team, or join the Bed Brigade.
When: Saturday April 27, 2013 (09:00 AM)
Where: Meadowbrook Park, 7901 Meadowbrook Lane, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Fee? yes $33 for individual 4K entries; $20 for ages 11 – 20; free for 10 and under 4K participants and Tot Trot participants free; $33 for the Bed Brigade
Contact: Ann Marie Schaeffing, (301) 608-3504
For more information: click here

Living Well With Cancer One-Day Retreat For Caregivers

Smith Center for Healing and the Arts
One-day Caregiver Retreats aim to help strengthen innate healing mechanisms through group support, yoga and stress reduction, creativity, and nutrition.
When: Saturday April 27, 2013 (09:00 AM – 4:00 PM)
Where: Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, 1632 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Fee? yes $40 per person
Contact: Smith Center, (202) 483-8600
For more information: click here

Grocery Deliveries to Low-Income Seniors in Columbia Heights

We Are Family Senior Outreach Network
We Are Family will be delivering free grocery bags to over 250 low-income seniors in the Columbia Heights, Petworth, and Adams Morgan neighborhoods.
When: Saturday April 27, 2013 (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
Where: Kelsey Apartments, 3322 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20010
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: Volunteers will help assemble and deliver grocery bags. Although a car is not needed, it is helpful. Some of our delivery routes can be done on foot, while others require a car.
Contact: Mark Andersen, (202) 487-8698
For more information: click here

REVISION dance company

Dance Place
In JUST BE, Artistic Director Shannon Quinn leads REVISION dance company in exploring the raw emotions and personal experiences of working with people with disabilities. The evening length modern dance work invites the audience and dancers to focus on the abilities of individuals, instead of the challenges and stereotypes associated with disabilities.
When: Saturday April 27, 2013 (8:00 PM)
Where: Dance Place, 3225 8th Street NE, Washington, DC 20017
Fee? yes $22 General Admission; $17 Members, Seniors, Teachers and Artists; $10 College Students; $8 Children (17 and under)
Contact: Carolyn Kamrath, (202) 269-1608
For more information: click here

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mass in B Minor featuring Agnes Zsigovics

Washington Bach Consort
Johann Sebastian Bach Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 We end our 35th Season with the monumental Mass in B Minor, a work Bach returned to again and again during his life. Although it draws upon Lutheran and Catholic traditions the B Minor Mass holds deep significance for people of all religious and cultural origins. Bach scholar Christoph Wolff describes the B Minor Mass as a summary of his writing for voice, not only in its variety of styles, compositional devices, and range of sonorities, but also in its high level of technical polish … Bach’s mighty setting preserved the musical and artistic creed of its creator for posterity. Pre-Concert Lecture: 2:00pm, Talking Bach is a series of free pre-concert lectures by noted Bach scholars one hour before performances at National Presbyterian Church. The lectures focus not only on the musical elements of the work that will be performed, but also on the historical context in which the music was created. Talks are designed to enhance the concertgoers’ appreciation and enjoyment of the music they are about to hear. The series is open to all ticket holders.
When: Sunday April 28, 2013 (3:00 PM)
Where: National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016
Fee? yes Tickets $23-$65, Students 18 and younger $10, Pay Your Age 18-38
Volunteer Info: Usher, Sell Tickets, Direct Patrons, Clean up after Reception
Contact: Washington Bach Consort, (202) 429-2121
For more information: click here

Guest Post: Calvary Women’s Services

Today, Calvary Women’s Services provides transitional housing and significant support for 35 women a year: healthy meals, education and job readiness programs, mental health and addiction recovery services, life skills classes, and a sisterhood of support. Some women go on to Sister Circle, a permanent housing facility for women with a history of addiction; 15 work toward independent living at Pathways, the only transitional housing program in the District for homeless women with mental illness. Follow-up services ensure that graduates stay healthy and on track in their transition to independent living.

The following post comes from Calvary’s blog – check it out and learn about a great way to give back to the community through financial support. This post was written by Megan Gamble, a Development Associate at Calvary who focuses on communications and events

Changes in GED Testing Create Barriers

The GED (General Education Development) test is going through a round of changes that aim to modernize and advance the testing process, but will ultimately create barriers for those most in need of its help.

The GED tests were first created in 1942 to help returning World War II veterans transition back into civilian life; the test was later updated in 1978, 1988 and 2002 and has been taken by more than 18 million people looking to receive their high school credentials. Now, an update scheduled to begin January 2, 2014 will have far-reaching consequences for those who aspire to earn their GED.

As announced at the end of last year, all GED tests are transitioning to computer only, and anyone who has started the test will lose any uncompleted sections and have to take them over again. In the District of Columbia, the cost for the test will also go up an estimated price of $120, increased from $50.

There has been a great effort to frame these changes as forward thinking and helpful to those taking the test, but this glosses over the point that many adults without adequate computer skills, who need their GED as the next step in life, will be intimidated and discouraged from taking the test. In fact, within the Message Guide that was put out by GED Testing Services themselves, there is the acknowledgment and warning that:

“if perceive finishing the GED test as a huge challenge, they will not pursue it.”

Women who come to Calvary Women’s Services have lost their housing, may not have consistent access to healthcare and likely have not had the same access to technology that others have. We were proud to open a computer lab within our program expansion to address the later, but technology skills don’t come naturally to everyone, and a period of learning and adjustment is to be expected. Not to mention the fact that learning an entirely new process of doing something is often not a top priority for someone who is focusing on making progress with her housing, her health or her income.

When the women at Calvary set their personal goals and start to takes steps to achieve them, many of them aspire to earn their GED. Extra barriers between eager individuals and their chances for advancement will only discourage and hinder women’s opportunities to move forward and take control of their lives.

Thanks to Academy of Hope for providing resources on the GED testing changes.

Please join the conversation and share your stories of working with adult education and GED preparation, as well as your thoughts on the new changes to GED testing procedure. Will this have a positive / negative / neutral impact on the populations with whom you work?

 

In The News…

This week’s news brief looks at a group of stories that hit the media this week about homelessness in the Greater Washington region. A special thanks to all Catalogue nonprofits that support those experiencing homelessness in the DC region, especially during the winter months.

Finding homes for the homeless in Fairfax County (Washington Post) “Although building the database is foremost about getting chronically homeless people into housing, the information also will help guide the county and nonprofit groups as they expand and improve their services, says Amanda Andere, the executive director of Facets. Part of the reason they must prioritize people is that the county lacks the resources to house everyone. The aim is to get at least 150 chronically homeless people into permanent housing within three years.”

D.C. Homeless Families Face Difficult Obstacles When Seeking Shelter (HuffPost: DC Impact) “The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, which provides legal representation for low- and no-income clients, compiled numerous complaints from clients and other relevant data to present major inefficiencies and inadequacies in the District’s current handling of homeless shelter accessibility. Focusing primarily on homeless families, the report identifies specific errors, including: altering the homeless of upcoming hypothermic conditions too late, failing to place qualifying families in shelters on nights where temperatures did not drop below freezing, wrongfully denying eligible families shelter placement and wrongfully threatening to expel families from shelters.”

D.C.’s main shelter crowded with large families (Washington Post) “A shortage of affordable housing for larger families with four or more children is a big factor behind crowded conditions at the District’s main family homeless shelter in Southeast Washington. The shelter has been filled to capacity this winter, with more than 900 people, including a record 600 children some nights. Rising poverty, unemployment and a lack of housing options among single parents who are heads of households are driving the city’s problem, experts say. The vast majority of parents living in D.C. General are single and female, according to the Department of Human Services.”