Children in public housing face substantial barriers to achieving success in school. To help overcome these challenges, we have developed a network of community centers that provide services in the neighborhoods where kids live.
Operated by KCHA and its nonprofit partners, these centers reach thousands of children every year. They provide fun, structured programs that allow youth to build skills and acquire the education needed to compete with their peers in school. They also foster healthy lifestyles and leadership opportunities. In the process, our community centers help children build a foundation that allows them to succeed academically and in life.
By the end of 2013, KCHA completed 20 community centers throughout King County. These centers serve both subsidized housing residents and people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to youth services, many of the facilities also offer classes and programs aimed at parents and working adults.
Providing an Environment for Learning
In the past, KCHA’s youth and adult programs often operated out of undersized, outdated buildings. Some of the facilities were in fact no more than converted apartment units. In contrast, our newer, larger community centers furnish a setting more conducive to achievement. They offer features that better meet the needs of residents, such as:
- Classrooms for youth and adult programs
- Dedicated homework spaces
- Computer labs
- Private counseling areas
- Multipurpose activity areas
- Kitchens to provide after-school snacks and meals
- Outdoor play areas
All of the new buildings feature attractive design both inside and out. They represent a focal point for each neighborhood – a community hub in which residents can take pride. They are also more energy efficient and more accessible to residents with disabilities than the facilities they replaced.
Delivering Customized Services
Each community center offers programs tailored to meet the needs of the people they serve. These services may include:
- Early learning programs and after-school programs
- Community-building and leadership programs
- Adult education classes, including ESL
- Employment readiness and job training opportunities
- Life skills classes
- Mentoring programs
- Recreational programs
- Healthy lifestyle and parent education classes
- Family case management services
Taken together, these programs help residents develop the health, skills, and education they need to contribute and compete in the region’s economy.