Children & Teen Services
Enriching the lives of children to break the cycle of homelessness
The breadth and depth of services we provide for children and their caregivers is designed to foster healthy child development and break the cycle of generational poverty in our community. We provide a safe and compassionate environment where kids can be kids and the lives of families are enriched. Our staff acts as role models, advocates, advisors, and continuous support for the families who reside in our programs.
Partnering with many organizations throughout the Bay Area, our Children’s Program includes:
- Developmentally-appropriate daily programs for children of all ages: With the support from individual volunteers and program partners such as Book Pals, Drawbridge, and the Performing Arts Workshop, Hamilton’s playrooms are fun, safe places where children can explore their passions, receive individual help with school work, build positive relationships with staff and peers, and expect the consistency that is often lacking in the lives of homeless youth.
- School-related assistance: Working closely with the San Francisco Unified School District, we provide fast passes, school uniforms, enrollment assistance, and general advocacy to ensure that children have the supplies and support they need to excel in school.
- Family-focused programming: Monthly community events provide opportunities for families to play and celebrate together as well as build connections with other residents. These events include a summer carnival, birthday parties, live music, cooking nights, and a variety of holiday celebrations.
- Bringing the playroom to the community: Through our partnership with the Crissy Field Center, we’ve enjoyed campfires, wilderness hikes, and camping trips in the Presidio. Other special field trips have included Alcatraz, the Academy of Science, Please Touch Garden, and taking the teens to Pixar Studios.
- Bringing the community to the playroom: Volunteers are a tremendous support. Some folks volunteer every week. Students from UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, and the University of San Francisco dedicate part of a semester or school year. A few corporations send staff to help with special events from deep cleaning to helping with field day. Download a volunteer application here.
- Empowering teens: In 2013 we hosted the first annual teen empowerment event. Learn more here and share your ideas with us about how to continue the momentum and support year round.
One child at a time: Maria’s Success
Maria was 11 when she and her family moved into Hamilton Family Center’s Transitional Housing Program. A regular in Children’s Program, Maria came one afternoon very excited about an organization she heard about called 7 Teepees. They have a 7 year program involving academic help, leadership skill development, and giving back to the community. Children’s Program staff helped the family fill out the application and set up an interview. Unfortunately, Maria was so nervous in the interview she didn’t present herself well and wasn’t accepted into the program. Knowing that she would be a good fit, Hamilton’s staff advocated on Maria’s behalf and 7 Teepees agreed to a second interview. Although Maria was disappointed, she was encouraged to keep focused on her goal and prepare more. Staff practiced interview skills with her so that Maria went to the second interview with a different attitude and boldness. She was accepted into the program.
Maria’s first summer with 7 Teepees was a huge success. She returned home each day with a huge smile on her face. The skills she developed in that program overflowed into all aspects of her life, and we noticed how her leadership skills developed here at Hamilton. Maria encouraged the younger kids to listen to staff and had fun engaging with them. As Maria and her family moved into permanent housing, they each expressed gratitude for the support they received in our program, and were set to continue to receive support through the 7 Teepees program.