C.R.E.A.T.E. Program for School-Age Homeless Children
Metropolitan Ministries implemented a new, exciting learning program for homeless children living as residents in their care. The program addresses trauma while engaging children in fun, creative activities.
The Children’s Recreational Education Arts &Therapeutic Experience (C.R.E.A.T.E.) was established in October 2017 and was created by counselors who work with families on campus while they are on the path to healing and self-sufficiency. Many families in Metropolitan Ministries’ care are fleeing from domestic violence or unsafe environments. Children often feel the brunt of the burdens of being homeless and enter the Ministries’ programs with anger, regression, or in some extreme cases, delays in education.
Students in the after-school program who enroll in C.R.E.A.T.E. work on improving their social-emotional skills, also known as academic enablers. Counselors and after school staff use the curriculum to teach core skills. Using fun and interactive activities, the staff engages children in their social and emotional environment. Through therapeutic art, mindfulness, yoga, recreational games, and more, staff are able to serve children in a compassionate and educational way. The skills the children work on can be taught, and with practice, become a normal part of their behavior. These include:
- Listen to Others
- Say Please and Thank You
- Follow the Rules
- Pay Attention to Your Work
- Ask for Help
- Take Turns When You Talk
- Get Along with Others
- Stay Calm with Others
- Do the Right Thing
- Do Nice Things for Others
Why C.R.E.A.T.E.? How is it different?
C.R.E.A.T.E. has enabled the Ministries’ staff to focus on enriching, creative after-school activities without attention being diverted to behaviors and needs of a few children. Essentially, all children get what they need. When negative behaviors occur, Therapeutic Specialists and Rational Behavior Therapists are able to intervene and implement real-time solutions without diverting the entire group, while also creating proactive solutions before problems arise. Needs are catered to individually based on child’s trauma, level in school, social skills level, etc. The program bridges the gap between group leaders and children/family counseling. This has also resulted in increased family involvement via parent engagement classes, events, take-home activities and follow-up from the C.R.E.A.T.E. staff daily and weekly.
- At least 80% of a minimum of 150 children demonstrated improved motivation to learn skills
- At least 85% of a minimum of 75 parents/caregivers are involved with their child’s development, education and/or school.
- At least 75% of a minimum of 100 children demonstrated improved positive social behaviors
- 95% of at least 30 children with on-time grade promotion
- At least 80% of a minimum of 100 individuals have improved mental well-being
Ashley – A Success Story
Ashley was experiencing severe trauma upon arrival to Metropolitan Ministries. She had the lowest grades in her class, was non-verbal, and had no friends. Ashley was unable to process or follow directions, was constantly distracted, and exhibited frequent behavior problems—resulting in children’s counseling being called in daily.
After implementation and participation in the program over just a few months, Ashley is able to verbalize her emotions and now speaks in full sentences. She is one of the most liked children in her class. Ashley loves coming to school and excels both academically and socially. She is able to follow directions with minimal prompts or redirection. Ashley feels loved and cared for and has almost no behavior concerns. Astonishing.
Metropolitan Ministries is proud to offer this vital program to the children in our care, thanks to the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.