Family Empowerment Program:
An Initiative to End Homelessness
In 2014-2015, 3081 students of Metropolitan Nashville Public School's students were considered homeless. The figure, based on a broad definition of homelessness, includes families living in motels, with relatives, in shelters, or in their cars.
In response to this critical situation, Catholic Charities of Tennessee initiated a plan to begin to address the needs of these families.
The Family Empowerment Program (FEP) is Catholic Charities' initiative to end family homelessness in Nashville. The FEP is a case management model that aims to support families in achieving stability.
Family Empowerment case managers are located in two United Way-sponsored Family Resource Centers (FRC): Salvation Army FRC and Catholic Charities' own South Nashville FRC.
Working in the community allows the case managers to better identify, assess, and connect families not only with basic needs, but to begin to coordinate action plans addressing money management, employment, and other life skills. Case managers walk with the families as they move towards financial stability, stable housing, and making healthy choices.
The primary source for referrals comes from the HERO program, and these families will receive priority in most cases. This program is funded through MNPS, and assists families fitting the homeless definition, with uniforms and transportation. (See Resources.)
Consistent with the "housing first" approach to ending homelessness, the FEP believes that access to housing is a key first step to stability. Since October 2014, it has placed over 50 families into more permanent housing situations. The FEP also provides social services and case management to walk alongside each family to prevent future homelessness.
FEP aims to reach Davidson County-based families within MNPS that are experiencing homelessness or at-risk of being homeless. The program's primary goal is to reduce the rates of MNPS students' absence and school mobility. This can be effectively achieved through focusing on the housing stability of students' families.