Specialist Program Helps Children Re-Engage with Education & Community

The Education Pathways Program (EPP) is an innovative specialist early intervention program provided at Launch Housing’s South Melbourne site that supports children in crisis accommodation. Recent ABS 2016 Census results revealed that of people experiencing homelessness housed in supported accommodation 26% were children under 12 years old.

Launch Housing is committed to helping families and their children with long-term housing solutions and specialist support services. Our family-centric South Melbourne Crisis Accommodation Centre provides medium- to long-term housing combined with a range of other services. This includes education pathways, educational assessments and access to a psychologist, intensive case management and case planning* supporting children and families experiencing homelessness and/or family violence.

One of these support services is the philanthropically funded Education Pathways Program (EPP). It is designed to reduce lost learning time for children, develop partnerships with schools and help parents navigate the education system.

The EPP offers invaluable connections between families and other emergency accommodation providers, helps enrol children in the short term at a local primary school and encourages social inclusion through various recreational activities.

Launch Housing also provides children with a daily nutritious breakfast and lunch, school supplies and other material aid. They also have access to valuable cognitive and educational assessments, counselling and classroom support from a qualified psychologist.

To ensure regular school attendance at the local primary school we provide a Walking School Bus helping children make it to school every.

Our staff had noticed that some children they worked with had not attended school for years—in some cases, due to transiency,  intergenerational poverty and social exclusion. Now, these services give children an opportunity to continue their educational development.

The Education Pathways Program aims to provide positive school experiences that will encourage meaningful secondary school participation. When families find long term housing it then supports enrolment in new schools.

Launch Housing South Melbourne Coordinator Shannon says, “Our specialist support services gave us an understanding of children who experience homelessness and disadvantage, and showed us where the gaps in support existed, mainly around education and emotional wellbeing.”

The program is facilitated by two EPP facilitators, an CSSS* Psychologist, and some generous volunteers who lead the Walking School Bus, a service paramount in helping the primary school children regularly attend the local school.

Launch Housing has worked closely with valuable community members to build partnerships for a more inclusive and customised learning experience, including 32 local schools that have committed to empower children and parents re-engage in the community.

These community members and leaders are key to social inclusion and the success of the program as children often feel out of place having moved from school to school because of housing instability.

Launch Housing South Melbourne Coordinator Shannon says, “The beauty and real strength of the program is the partnership with the school that has that social justice framework and a principal that believes every single child should be in school.”

We are the first homelessness service to actively engage with clients and intervene to identify children, engage with families and support their primary school attendance. This program is making an incredible difference to educational outcomes of highly disadvantaged children.

Since its beginning in 2015, the EPP has given 182 children the opportunity to re-engage with education and the broader community. The attendance rate for all students in the program is nearly 95%.

* Children’s Specialist Support Service (CSSS) is a Launch Housing service which delivers a holistic specialist response for children experiencing homelessness and/or family violence.

Launch Housing’s Education Pathways Program is the proud winner of the 2018 VicHealth Award for Improving Health Equity .