FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions...
Q. Is Family Promise an emergency shelter?
A. No, Family Promise is not an emergency shelter since we have an application process. We do our best to help find emergency shelter and other resources while families wait for shelter. If you or someone you know are in need of shelter, please contact us at (717) 737-1100. You can also start the application process online by clicking here.
Q. How does Family Promise work?
A. Family Promise organizes over 20 houses of worship together with social service agencies, nonprofits, and other local organizations to provide a truly holistic response to families experiencing homelessness and at-risk families.
Our guests are housed in what we call The Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). The IHN engages a network of community partners, often faith communities, to house families with children in different locations. Volunteers create and connect families to the community, lending their passion and expertise to help families get back on their feet.
We also have a diversion/prevention program where we provide case management and skill-building classes to assist families who are on the brink of homelessness. To learn more about our programs, click here.
Q. Do you only serve families, and what is your definition of family?
A. We serve families with children. There must be at least one child under the age of 18. Our motto is that we keep families together. We work with single mothers, single fathers, in-tact families, families with teens, extended family members, etc. Couples do not need to be married. We work with LGBTQA parents as well. Any definition of family that includes at least one child, we consider to be a family.
Q. What type of resources do you provide?
A. We are able to help find many different resources to fit each family’s individual needs. We provide case management to help with the application process for housing, child care, food stamps, medical assistance, and diapers. We believe each family is unique and make sure we listen to what their needs and goals are and then address each one.
Q. How do people get to and from Family Promise if they do not have a vehicle?
A. If you are in need of transportation, we can provide CAT bus passes. Our Day Center in Camp Hill is located on the D bus line.
Q. How do families apply?
A. Families interested in applying for shelter may call our office to have one sent via email or print an application from our website. Please click here for the application.
Q. What is the application process like?
A. Once we receive a completed application, our case manager will call the applicant to set up either an in person or zoom intake. During the intake we will go over the application and the needs of the family. We will then do a background check. Families are not eligible for our program if they have a violent felony or abuse of children on their record.
Q. How long do families stay in the Family Promise shelter program?
A. The goal for each of our families is to move back into stable housing within 60-90 days. Our average length of stay is less than 60 days.
Q. Does Family Promise pay back rent or other bills?
A. Unfortunately, we are not able to pay for late rent. However, we do provide resources, advocacy, and case management to assist families that have fallen behind on bills.
Q. After families graduate from the program, what happens next?
A. We like to stay connected to our families. We will call, follow-up, and continue providing case management, support services, and resources to any family interested. We become family with our families. It’s important to us to know that our families remain stable once they leave our program, so we do our best to stay in touch.
General FPHCR FAQs
Q. What is family homelessness, and why is it a critical issue?
A. Family homelessness is often referred to as an “invisible crisis.” The parents and children experiencing it are less likely to be seen on the streets than chronically homeless individuals or homeless veterans. Parents most often attempt to stay hidden from sight, for fear that their children will be taken from them if identified as homeless by child protective services. They can be found living in their cars, staying week-to-week in unsafe motels, or doubled up temporarily with friends or family. But, although not visible, they are the faces of a national crisis.
Simply put, we have a severe shortage of affordable housing in America, exacerbated by rising rents and stagnant wages. Low-income families have little or no margin of error, and one misstep can lead to homelessness. Two and a half million children will experience homelessness this year in America—one in every 30. 35% of the entire homeless population in the United States is comprised of families with children, more than half of whom are under the age of six. Children without safe and secure homes are not playing on a level field with their peers. They have higher levels of emotional and behavioral problems, increased risk of serious health issues, and perform significantly worse in school.
These children run the very real risk of following in their parents’ footsteps; a new generation of homeless adults, unable to earn a living wage or afford secure homes. If we cannot effectively address this issue as a nation today, the societal costs tomorrow will be staggering.
Q. How did Family Promise National get started?
A. Nationally, we began thirty years ago as the Interfaith Hospitality Network, and our core program was shelter. But over the years, as we have added new Affiliates, and existing Affiliates matured, we have continued developing a broad array of programs to serve low-income families and families experiencing homelessness. In 2003, we changed our name to Family Promise, more reflective of our ever-broadening scope. The name speaks to the promise we make to every family we serve, but also to the promise that is inherent in every family.
Our model comprises preventative initiatives for families in danger of losing their homes. We provide food, shelter, and case management to those who are experiencing homelessness. We also have stabilization programs to ensure that the independence of families who have secured housing after leaving the program is sustainable.
Today, Family Promise is the leading national organization addressing family homelessness.
Q. How is Family Promise different from other shelters in the area?
A. Family Promise is just what the name says. We bring in families of all kinds, and we promise to help with resources and care while in our program. We are unique in that we serve family units that most other shelters are not able to accommodate (such as single fathers, intact families, and families with teens). Our approach to families is a little unique as well. We utilize local congregations and volunteers to support our families alongside professionally trained staff. The families we serve and our model are a little different than most. We are fortunate in our community to have a variety of shelter and other non-profit organizations to assist local families. Each program is a little different, but we all work together. We always have a waiting list, which means that even though we do have many shelter programs, we still aren’t meeting the needs of our community. We will continue to work together with other community partners to address the barriers facing families. To learn more about how our program works, check out this quick video.
Q. Family Promise partners with many congregations. Is this a religious organization?
A. Family Promise is a secular organization. However, because of the religious community’s mandate to serve, and the fact that they typically have space available during the week, we utilize houses of worship from all faiths as shelter space for families. Many members of host congregations serve as volunteers during their congregation’s host week. By working together in a network, our congregations are strengthened as people of different faiths unite to work for a better community for all.
Q. How can I volunteer?
A. Volunteers play an essential role in helping families experiencing homelessness attain sustainable independence. We have a variety of volunteer roles for people based on their interests and time commitment. Volunteers do not need to be associated with one of our partner congregations in order to become a volunteer. (*All volunteers must pass basic clearances required by each congregation or the FPHCR program based on level of interaction with our guests). Please click here to learn more about our volunteer roles and how to get involved!
Q. How can my company get involved?
A. Corporations can support FPHCR in a variety of ways. We have corporate volunteer days. If you would like to organize a volunteer day for your business, please contact us to schedule a time and learn what our current needs are. We also have business sponsors that support our organization, both generally and for events. We love to partner with businesses to support our families. You can learn more by clicking here.
Finally, we have a variety of fundraising events that can serve as team-building experiences for corporations. We’d love to have your business come as a group to one of our events to increase morale while helping local families! If you are interested in any of the following options for your business, please contact our Executive Director, Matt Wagner, at (717) 737-1100 or email@example.com.
Q. How is my donation used?
A. Because of the way we utilize congregations, community resources, and volunteers, each $1 donated to Family Promise equals $3 in in-kind gifts. We’re able to keep our budget low because of the support of our partners and volunteers. That way we can ensure the money that is donated is used wisely to help the most families we can.
The most helpful way to help us plan and budget wisely is to become a monthly donor. Click here to donate.
Q. How is FPHCR funded?
A. The largest percentage of funding comes from individual donors, folks who get to know Family Promise through volunteer efforts and fundraising events. Our monthly donors help to make the most impact because we can count on their consistency, which helps us to wisely build our budget. Our corporate partners help to support our families as well. We also receive grant funding and support from congregations and other organizations.