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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Renaissance marks quarter century serving homeless, low-income kids

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Tuesday, March 26, 2024   

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Renaissance Children's Center, which serves low-income families and those experiencing homelessness with infants and children up to the time they enter kindergarten.

Susan Dunn, director of the center, said many kids who have spent time in the 6,600 square-foot facility in Lakewood have lived in transitional housing, in cars, or have camped out with their parents as they work to get back on their feet.

"The children are coming here while the parents are looking for work, and going to school, and just rebuilding their lives. And it's a safe place for the children to be and learn and grow," she explained.

Launched in 2005 and operated by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, the center has eight naturally-lit classrooms and two outdoor play areas. Kids get breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack prepared onsite by a professional chef. Children have space to direct their own learning experience. And a social-skills curriculum helps prepare kids to succeed in school and beyond, by building emotional competence and strengthening their ability to play and solve problems with others.

The center's staff is trained in trauma-informed education, and mental health services are available for children and parents. Dunn said most of the trauma kids experience stem from living in poverty. Many have been separated from their parents because of behavioral-health issues or incarceration, and adds that consistency is key to their recovery.

"They know when meals are served. Everybody sits down at the table and eats together, so there's that community. And then our classrooms are very home-like. It doesn't look like a schoolroom as much as it looks like a living room and a home," Dunn continued.

The center's woodsy outdoor spaces serve as a natural-learning classroom, which promotes math, science, literacy and other skills. Dunn said children get to connect to nature and experience new ways of learning.

"A lot of the kids, they don't really have a big backyard, and so our playgrounds are their big backyard. They get to use their muscles and their skills to climb and check out bugs and rocks and all kinds of things like that," she said.

Disclosure: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Housing/Homelessness, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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