An Interview with Family Leader Mykela Collins
Family Leader Mykela Collins was recently featured in a SchoolHouse Connection webinar that accompanied the release of their new report on infant/toddler homelessness and access to early learning. We interviewed her about why this issue is so close to her heart.
Why did you agree to get involved in the webinar? What did it mean for you to have the opportunity to speak on this?
I agreed to be involved in the webinar because I felt that it was important to share my living situation with others. I was unaware that my living situation was considered to be homelessness. It was important for me to have an opportunity to speak because I now understand the importance of my living situation and I also know that many people care and understand it. I have a supportive relationship with Ada S. McKinley and I may have made some connections with others who may be able to assist me.
I knew other families would need to know that information, as they may have similar situations and could benefit from the information. I do believe as a parent with this experience, I may be able to raise awareness for other parents, to be comfortable enough to accept their situation and receive the benefits. I do not use the term “help”, because many people have an issue with asking for help. So when we choose our words carefully, we may receive a greater response from families that are in need. Hearing from policy experts and administrators could come off as a slap in the face for some--people do not want to hear from people who sit in high places. Some may feel that they are looked down upon, some may take it as “how can a person who has never been through what I have been through tell me something about it?". Again that is where I say, choose your words wisely, because you may have a policy expert say “I understand what you are going through”, but they have no idea how they are making a person feel when they say that.
What do you hope families, providers, policymakers, or the media will take away from the conversation?
I hope that everyone will take from the conversation how important it is to not label families, because homelessness is a very sensitive topic for some. It is important to educate families about the wraparound services that are available if they need it. It is also important for families to understand that they are not alone and that there is a supportive team at their children’s schools, and they are always available and willing to assist them.
To read the SchoolHouse Connection report, click here.