The challenge, sponsored by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Watt Companies, Ernst & Young, Everyone In United Way and Home For Good, called for the best and brightest to pitch an innovative idea that would assist the way our homeless neighbors live, receive care, and improve their quality of life. Sixty organizations and community members submitted proposals and, after much deliberation, a panel of judges picked five finalists. Amongst them, Ellen Cervantes.
Cervantes’ captivating pitch proposed that the best way to assist homeless families with children is through mobile child care. In the most recent count in Los Angeles, at least 5,000 children are homeless with half of those being under the age of six! Research supports that being homeless between the ages of 0-3 is the strongest predictor of future homelessness. All too familiar with those stats, the COO pitched for a mobile child care unit that will help meet the child care needs of homeless families where they are as they generally don’t have access to traditional child care. As Cervantes presented her pitch, the audience, like many others were surprised to hear the overwhelmingly data and compelling testimony and in turn, agreed to award her the $10K.
The money would help launch a pilot program featuring three main components: a smart phone app, a mobile child care vehicle, and trauma informed child care staff and materials. The peace of mind that comes with the promise of safe and engaging child care will assist parents who need to secure housing, seek or keep employment or job training, and foster education opportunities.
As Cervantes related, her agency’s motto is “child care keeps parents earning and children learning”.