Maggie plays with her son for video on reaching unhoused families

Home visiting programs are uniquely situated for reaching unhoused families and supporting them in meeting their basic needs while promoting healthy child development. Lydia Place, based in Bellingham, Washington, offers home visiting services to families in Whatcom County using the Parents as Teachers model. Home visitors, known internally as Family Support Specialists, support parents in developing their caregiving skills even as they face other pressing challenges. They remain flexible meeting families at their preferred time and location and adjusting plans to respond to urgent needs.

In this video, Program Manager Jennifer Hooper talks about Lydia Place’s multipronged approach to breaking the cycle of homelessness using a prevention lens, including services offered through the agency’s Parent Support and Mental Health Programs. We also hear from two parents about their own personal journeys and experiences with Lydia Place staff.  Family Support Specialists Hannah Vandermay and Amber Oldham discuss the curriculum behind their home visits and how reaching unhoused families now can ultimately connect them to natural supports in their community.

These perspectives are especially valuable as many families face housing instability amid a nationwide housing shortage. Their voices amplify how home visiting can be a valuable support to families during times of crisis and help caregivers build protective factors that mitigate the early effects of trauma. Social service agencies can also use the video to consider how to make programs more flexible for participants facing uncertainty.

Acknowledgments: Thank you to Jennifer Hooper, Sarah Kidd, Amber Oldham, Hannah Vandermay, Yesenia Avelar, and participating families for allowing us to feature them in the video. Thanks also to Elly Miles, Soumita Bose, and Heather Sandstrom from the Urban Institute and Grace Atukpawu-Tipton, Allison Meisch, and Joelle Ruben at James Bell Associates for their work shaping and refining the video. We extend our appreciation to Sandpiper Video for producing the video.