BOISE -- A need in the homeless community will be filled starting in a week, when Interfaith Sanctuary Homeless Shelter opens their doors during the day.
Every day when nighttime shelters close, homeless families with children struggle. So Interfaith Sanctuary is starting a new daytime family-focused support program. Interfaith will be opening up their family side from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the weekdays so homeless families can have access to newfound opportunities.
One family KTVB spoke with has been living at Interfaith since July, and is now trying to transition out of homelessness.
"I want to make something of my life," Robert Heckathorn said, "I want to give my child a future, I want to give my wife a house."
Heckathorn and his wife, Kristina Snyder, say their little girl Tearney is a big motivator.
"She doesn't really have a place she can go and experience being a kid," Heckathorn said.
"I wish there was someplace indoors where she could be during the day to color, learn, you know," Snyder added. "She seems to do OK, but the more aggravated we get it tends to afflict on her. And having her out and about in the cold all day, you know, she's sick [right now]."
Now that Interfaith is welcoming their families during the day for programming, Kristina and Robert - and a number of other families who call Interfaith Sanctuary home - are more hopeful.
"I'm really looking forward to a lot of different programs," Heckathorn said.
"Having programs here during the day is going to move the process along a lot faster," Snyder added.
Currently, there is only one daytime shelter support for Boise's homeless. But Interfaith Sanctuary Co-director Jodi Peterson says homeless families with young kids need structure.
"We're going to open the doors because our kids don't have a place to be during the day and their parents are struggling to get them structured nap times and nutritional snacks and any kind of early education," Peterson told KTVB.
Peterson says this new plan is not considered "shelter."
"This is Interfaith Sanctuary daytime programming. And in that will be pre-K and early educational programming, parenting classes, parenting with child classes, financial classes and full-time case management. So that when kids are napping or in pre-K learning, our case managers are working with the parents on moving them forward to get them into housing or into employment or whatever it is we're working on with them."
Interfaith is also providing families with school-aged children after-school programs, nutritious snacks and case management.
The goal of this pilot program is to help transition families out of homelessness; when children are napping or learning or playing, mom and dad can work with case managers at the shelter on critical steps from finding housing to employment.
Peterson says they have plans and volunteers for child care, early education and nutrition but they're still working with partners to get all the right tools.
"Having all the learning material that will help these kids track with the kids who have homes," Peterson added.
Peterson tells KTVB the program is exploring partnerships with Boise State University School of Education and Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children for ideas and program support. In addition, she says Port of Subs has selected Interfaith Sanctuary's daytime program as their beneficiary for their holiday gift card campaign and funding from the promotion will go to support nutrition for the families participating in their daytime program.
The shelter is calling on the community to help with funding, supplies and nutritious snacks to keep the supportive daytime programming sustainable.
"We just didn't want to wait for everything to be in place because as it gets colder it gets even harder to take care of that child on the street," Peterson added.
"It'd make my heart rise a little bit," Heckathorn said. "These programs are not only gonna help us but help other families if you use 'em."
Interfaith Sanctuary is in need of day-time volunteers, nutritious snacks, educational materials and cash donations. Cash donations can be made directly to their website. Because of limited storage space at the shelter, Peterson says cash donations can be the best way to help get the necessary funding directly to the program and gather tools as needed.
You can find the shelter's wish list for early educational programming items here.