Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Invisible Homeless Families and Youth in Kansas: New Documentary Tells Their Stories

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Diane Nilan,, 630-267-5424

Worn Out Welcome Mat — Kansas,” a documentary providing the first in-depth look at invisible homeless families and youth in Kansas, will be released Friday, Sept. 4 on the HEAR US Inc. website.

PREVIEW FILM Worn Out Welcome Mat

Commissioned by the Kansas State Department of Education’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program, this 21-minute film takes viewers across Kansas to hear from parents and youth who lost housing and had nowhere to go. Diane Nilan, HEAR US president and founder, began filming this documentary in February 2015. 
One woman, a Marine, with her 4-year-old daughter, talks about going from “having everything to having nothing…” Another woman with a social work degree and a 13-year-old daughter, contemplated moving into their storage unit because they couldn’t get into overcrowded shelters. Domestic violence forced one mother and her 11-year-old son to bounce from family to acquaintances because they had nowhere to go, her son getting in trouble for “issues” like running too much bath water. A school social worker shared her story of being kicked out as a youth, and homeless again when her house trailer was repossessed, leaving her and her young son on the streets.
Nilan, who ran shelters in Illinois for many years, has been on the road for the past 10 years, living in a small motorhome, traveling backroads to chronicle family and youth homelessness. Her award-winning documentaries give those experiencing homelessness the opportunity to be seen and heard—dispelling myths and empowering those too often homeless and invisible in communities across the nation.

This film project is the second in the Worn Out Welcome Mat series; the first was in Texas (2013). Because homeless families and youth have nowhere to go—no shelters available in most areas and no other resources—they often double up with family, friends or acquaintances, bouncing around as they are faced with the “worn out welcome mat” syndrome. Too often they are not identified as homeless, nor do they realize that’s what their plight is called.
Schools in Kansas have identified over 10,000 homeless students last year. Over 80% were doubled up. Tate Toedman, KS State Department of Education’s state coordinator overseeing homeless education, points out that this film will be invaluable when training school personnel, “These are our families and young people. We need to make sure they at least have access to education. This film will open eyes and minds!”
“These are our families and young people. We need to make sure they at least have access to education. This film will open eyes and minds!”
Nilan will screen Worn Out Welcome Mat - KS at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth  annual conference in Phoenix this November.

The documentary will be available for individual viewing on the HEAR US website ( and on DVDs for larger audiences. DVDs will be available for $15 (includes shipping/handling). Contact

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