Tutoring at Emergency and Transitional Shelters

What is an emergency shelter?

  • An emergency shelter is a location where families can expect short-term lodging. Most emergency shelters house families from 30 days to three months.  
  • Some emergency shelters are seasonal (available only during winter months.)
  • After sheltering at an emergency location, families may move on to a transitional shelter location, or they may move between emergency shelters.
  • Some emergency shelters are also domestic violence shelters (see the ‘domestic violence’ module). 
  • Tutoring generally takes place in a common area. Because of the high turnover, most of the tutoring available is in a group situation (see the ‘group tutoring’ module). 

What is a transitional shelter?

  • Transitional shelters are locations where families live for longer periods of time, usually anywhere from six months to two years. This shelter is a ‘transition’ between homelessness and permanent housing. 
  • Depending on the location, families may be receiving support in the form of counseling and/or substance abuse rehabilitation. There are also often health, education and employment programs to help parents build skills prior to a return to permanent housing.. 
  • Tutoring generally takes place in a common area, such as a family room or dining area. Some locations have computers and internet access, while others don’t. 
  • Most transitional shelters have one-on-one tutoring during after school hours until around 7:30 p.m. Some transitional shelters also offer group tutoring. 

General Guidelines and Protocols:

  • Every location will have its own regulations. Remember that tutors are guests and should obey rules set by staff. 
  • Always tutor in view of staff or another tutor in a public location. Tutoring should not take place in the family’s private room(s).

Tutoring Tips: 

  • Expect high turnover at emergency shelter locations; often students will vary on a week-to-week basis. 
  • At transitional shelters, it is beneficial for tutors to help students establish a consistent routine, since they might be coming directly from the more chaotic emergency shelter environment. It is especially important to be on time and prepared every week. 
  • It is important to set both short and long-term goals for students in transitional shelters. Work with emergency shelter students on short-term goals.