Richfield’s award-winning Kids @ Home program creates a community of support for those who need it most
Home stability is one of the key indicators of whether or not a student will succeed in school. To improve home stability for students attending Richfield schools the City of Richfield created the Kids @ Home program.
Created in 2004, the Kids @ Home program provides up to four years of rent assistance to families that have a child in the Richfield school system. The program caters to parents and guardians of all ages and family situations.
The Kids @ Home Program will be taking applications for new participants through September 21.
Unlike other federal and state housing programs, the Kids @ Home program requires the student’s guardian to work at least 30 hours a week.
“A lot of other rental assistance programs penalize participants for working. The more a participant works, the less money they qualify for,” remarked Community Development Housing Manager Julie Urban. “Having a work requirement creates participant buy-in, and provides them with a foundation of employment for when they transition from the program.”
The program also accomplishes its goal of helping Richfield students succeed in the classroom.
“Prior to signing up for the program, one of our participant’s daughters missed 72 days of school. The next year when her family was on the Kids @ Home program, she only missed one,” remembered Lynnette Chambers, multi-family housing coordinator.
The Kids @ Home program provides other levels of support for participants, as well.
Each participant is required to attend at least nine Parent Share meetings a year. At these meetings, program participants discuss parenting issues, nutrition, budgeting and a variety of other topics to bring further stability to their home environment.
Many participants take these new skills home and teach them to their children.
Being a city-level program allows for Kids @ Home to meet the individual needs of its participants.
“Every summer our staff gets together and talks about ways to improve the program,” said Urban. “We want to tailor it, as best as possible, to the needs of Richfield residents.”
Over the past decade, the program has won four awards. Three of the awards were for program innovation and outstanding resident/client services from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. The fourth award was bestowed upon Kids @ Home by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs for the program’s outstanding level of innovation.
Undoubtedly, the Kids @ Home program is unique for a municipality, but being unique means nothing without tangible successes. In the 13 years since its launch, the program has achieved more success than the city had originally imagined.
“The majority of the participants become self-sufficient after they transition off the Kids @ Home program,” said Chambers. “Several of our former participants have gone on to very successful careers and others have eventually become homeowners.”
Former participants frequently say that the program has changed their lives. When that happens, the city knows the program is working.
To learn more about the program or apply to participate, visit: https://goo.gl/DMCdae