Advocacy News - News

Financial Assistance for Childcare Costs Available Through Children in Shelter

CCEH's Children in Shelter Childcare Assistance Fund is available to help support homeless families with childcare costs. Thanks to the generous support of the Department of Housing, the fund remains open and is continuing to accept new applications.

Children in Shelter is open to families living in emergency shelters (including domestic violence shelters) or enrolled in the CT Rapid Rehousing Program.  It may pay for childcare fees at a licensed facility or licensed individual provider for a child under the age of 6 and their eligible siblings, as well as transportation needs, such as bus passes or gas cards. CCEH is pleased to announce that later this month, Children in Shelter will be expanded to serve children up to the age of 12.  More details on this change coming soon!

CCEH recently heard from one of the homeless shelters accessing the program.  The case manager involved sent in this touching example of how Children in Shelter helped one of her families:

Kate is a single mother to a 7-month-old boy, living in the shelter until recently.  She came to the shelter because she had lost her job due to complications related to her pregnancy.  Prior to entering shelter, she was working as a Certified Nursing Aid (CNA) and had her own apartment.  Kate told shelter staff that she was anxious to return to work but could not afford childcare costs and had no friends or family who could help with babysitting.  Childcare was a significant barrier to her getting a job and leaving shelter.  The Shelter’s Employment Specialist referred her to the  Children in Shelter Program, which paid for childcare 5 days per week while she looked for a job and began working as a CNA again.  Rapid Rehousing concurrently helped her to move into her own apartment again.  

Kate informed shelter staff of how thankful she was with receiving assistance with day care costs. She said that without the Children in Shelter program, she wouldn’t have been able to obtain employment and been able to move into her own housing.  

Many thanks to Josephine for submitting this story!  For detailed information on eligibility, guidelines, application, program agreements, etc, please see the Children in Shelters page on CCEH's website.  Questions related to the program may be directed to Katie Kenney, Project Assistant, at or 860-721-7876, ext. 101.

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CT DOH To Hold Community Discussions on Cold Weather Protocols, ESG Funding

Consistent with HUD Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) funding requirements, the Connecticut Department of Housing plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for frontline homeless services, including emergency shelter.  This provides an opportunity to make this funding stream consistent with the functions required to meet HUD’s requirements for Coordinated Access, and to reinforce the good work of all your communities in making the ESG funding a better support for this process.  Prior to finalization of the RFP, Department of Housing representatives would like to meet with providers to discuss your thoughts about this opportunity, and to collect your suggestions.

At the same time, and based on feedback from shelters last year, the Department of Housing is actively exploring alternatives to the existing cold weather protocol to enable our system to effectively provide shelter for all those in need during extreme cold weather.  To help communities develop their thinking with regard to extreme cold weather in the context of Coordinated Access, CCEH has sent a survey to the points of contact for each Coordinated Access Network (CAN) with the request that each CAN provide a response by October 1.  The community discussions will allow providers an opportunity to voice thoughts around this process as well.

CCEH is coordinating three community discussions to allow for in-person exchange between providers and the Department of Housing on these important topics.  Executive Directors and/or Shelter Program Managers from across the state are welcome to attend any one of these events (attendance is not restricted according to provider location).

Dates, times, and locations are as follows:

  • Thursday, September 4, 3-4:30 p.m., in New Haven at the United Way of Greater New Haven, 370 James St
  • Friday, September 5, 1-2:30 p.m., in Westport at Christ and Holy Trinity Church, 75 Church Lane
  • Monday, September 8, 3-4:30 p.m., in Hartford at South Church of Hartford, located at 277 Main Street (corner of Buckingham and Main).  Parking for South Church is available behind the building, off John Street. 

It is not necessary to RSVP for these sessions.  If you require further information, please contact Brenda Earle, Field Representative, Individual and Family Support Programs, Department of Housing at

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New Haven’s 100-Day Challenge Isn’t Over

New Haven's recent 100-day challenge to reduce chronic homelessness by 75% is continuing beyond the original time frame.

The goal, carried out with the help of Rapid Results Institute, was to house 107 of people who've been homeless long-term in New Haven by the end of July. At a congressional hearing held Tuesday at United Way of Greater New Haven, organizers announced that thus far, they've housed 43 people, with additional 59 matched to housing.

Organizers found that the bulk of their 100 days was taken up creating a system that would streamline placement of people who are homeless. Most of the people were housed in the last month, said Leigh Shields Church, challenge team leader.

The hearing was held at the request of Sen. Chris Murphy, D-CT. Sen. Murphy was joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. Results were presented by Alison Cunningham, executive director of Columbus House and co-chair of the effort; Lisa Tepper Bates, executive director of Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, and Shields Church. Volunteer were able to assess the needs of 687 individuals and families, and create a sustainable system that could be replicated across the state. They found that 69 people were older than 60, 215 had had three or more visits to emergency departments in the last six months, and 301 had a chronic health condition, mental health issues, and were dealing with substance abuse, all at once.

Some of the initiative's partners, in addition to Partnership for Strong Communities, include Columbus House, the New Haven Housing Authority, Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, the Veterans Administration, the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

There will be a more formal presentation on September 17.

Reprinted with permission from Partnership for Strong Communities.

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Why Voter Engagement Matters


Categories: Advocacy News |Advocacy & Field Mobilization

While 501c3 nonprofits cannot support or oppose a candidate or party, they do have a critical role in the election season. The two most important roles are:

Educating candidates about the critical work your organization does in the communities the candidates represent; and
Encouraging all your organization's constituents to vote - your staff, volunteers, customers, clients, and all other stakeholders.

Finally, data from a 2012 Nonprofit VOTE study makes the case for nonprofit engagement by explaining that voters contacted by nonprofits had a higher turnout rate than the average for all registered voters, and nonprofits were especially effective at increasing turnout among those who are traditionally underrepresented in elections. 

The Connecticut Nonprofit Human Services Cabinet (not to be confused with the Governor's Cabinet on Nonprofit Health and Human Services) and SOTS Denise Merrill publicly launched a voter engagement and education initiative designed to reach the 500,000 clients served through homeless shelters, childcare centers, and other nonprofit providers.

Download this 2014 Voter Registration Toolkit.

Voter registration FAQs from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

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Testimonial: ‘It was a Breathtaking Experience to Watch My Client Move Swiftly Through the System


Categories: Advocacy News |Homelessness & Housing

A letter from David E. McCarthy, Senior Housing Specialist, Columbus House, Inc.:

As a housing liaison, I am the first line of contact post the VI-SPDAT. When I made the initial phone call to my client, she answered the phone in tears. She explained to me that her life was at rock bottom. She said that she was staying in a shelter and trying to get her life together, but was having a difficult time making any progress. She said that she was losing hope of ever having her own home again. I told her that I was here to help. I explained a bit about the 100-Day campaign and that with the correct documents there is a large potential that we will be able to offer her housing.

She explained to me that she has not been able to live with her daughter for quite some time. She has been struggling financially as a part-time waitress for many years and craving stability so that she can have her daughter back in her life. I explained to her that time was of the essence, and that she needed to gather X-Y-Z documents. Dwelling in a New Haven shelter but born in Greenwich, she said getting her birth certificate would take some time. I offered transportation, but she explained to me that she had work for the next few days and wouldn’t be able to make the trip anytime soon.

She said she would give me call in a few days and we would set up a date and time for me to take her.

Reaching out to her two days later, I was ecstatic to learn that she was on a train to Greenwich, “I am going to get my birth certificate,” she said. When asking about her other documents, she informed me that she had a plan and would have them for me soon. A few days later I received a phone call. “I have all my documents,” she said joyfully. “Do you think this is going to work, will I get an apartment?” I clarified that I cannot guarantee anything, however I reinforced optimism reiterating that the campaign was 100 people in 100 days, and the sooner we get your documents the better. “I hope this works” she said. “I really need this; it’s been so long since I have had a place to live.” Hope was alive again.

Approximately two weeks to date from my initial outreach, I was overjoyed to inform my client that she had been matched to PSH. “I know you can’t tell over the phone but tears are pouring down my face right now.” “I can’t believe this is happening,” she said over and over.

From initial outreach to housing matched in about two weeks, it was a breathtaking experience to watch my client move swiftly through the newly constructed coordinated access system. As Albert Einstein said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

In a community with many organizations sharing a common goal of ending homelessness, Ifeel we owe it to the community to work together, in unison. I firmly believe that a communities’ potential can only be fully realized when it works together, and my client stands testament to that.

Thank you all to the 100-Day team for contributing your part in making my clients dream a reality, reinstalling hope in our clients, and revitalizing our objective of ending homelessness in New Haven.


David E. McCarthy

Senior Housing Specialist

Columbus House Inc.

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