Lesley University's Child Homelessness Initiative provides our undergraduate students—the next generation of educators, counselors, and leaders—with the tools to support our nation's youngest homeless citizens.
We wanted to do something about child homelessness—to raise awareness, and to prepare our undergraduate students who are planning to work with children or families. Because, the next generation of child care providers, teachers, counselors, and advocates like you will need specific knowledge and skills to work with our nation's most vulnerable children.
In 2011, a group of Lesley faculty and staff formed the Child Homelessness Initiative, with the generous support of alumna Laurie Schoen, and Victoria Whalen.
Our first call to action was to create a holistic and rigorous curriculum. The curriculum consists of 5 undergraduate courses, each providing knowledge and techniques you can use when working with, or on behalf of, homeless children and families. If you complete all 5 courses, you can earn a Certificate in Child Homelessness Studies.
The need for effective interventionists across fields couldn't be greater.
Most homeless children have experienced trauma, whether through
witnessing violence or moving multiple times, and suffer from
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many have physical health
problems, including chronic conditions such as asthma.
Learn to recognize the signs of
trauma in the children you teach. Discover ways to ensure
children reach their potential. Prepare to advocate for homeless
the policy level.
The curriculum delves into the origins and nature
of homelessness, child development, trauma and crisis, and resiliency. Internships in real-world settings allow you to put theory into practice.
"My experience thus far in the Child Homelessness course is truly outstanding. Not only is it an eye-opener, but it is also very informative. The structure allows different aspects to be covered by different professors and others in the field who know that particular area well."
—Charda Davis, Dual Degree Counseling Major
The Child Homelessness course is the cornerstone of the curriculum.
"It's our legacy. It's what we were meant to do. We should take care of our children."
—Laurie Schoen, Schoen Family Foundation, and Lesley University alumna
These faculty, staff, and alumni participate in the Initiative in various ways. Their roles include developing and teaching the curriculum, coordinating internships in organizations that work with homeless populations, or providing guidance as part of the advisory group.
Our goal is to bring attention to the growing number of children and
families without adequate shelter in the Commonwealth and nation. In addition to developing and teaching the curriculum, our participating faculty lead conversations about this issue, on and off campus.
We've partnered with The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital to fight child homelessness. Read more.
Podcasts and Blog Posts
Through the Clay Center, we've created a series of 3 blog posts and podcasts on the issue.
We are working to develop more courses, and to foster additional partnerships with organizations in Massachusetts. Our goal is to create a network of like-minded, mission-driven organizations so that together, we can reach parents and caregivers operating in shelters and other settings, and deal with the problem of child homelessness.
Associate Professor of Human Services
Mary Beth Lawton
Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education / Developmental Psychology
Undergraduate Certificate Program: Child Homelessness Studies
Tuition and Fees
Dual Degree Programs
Credit Toward Graduate Education - Lesley Dividend
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Oxford Street Players Theatre Group
The Child Homelessness Initiative
E-newsletter: News from 29 Mellen
"I'm so hopeful...that there really is a way to have a long-term impact on changing what these kids have gone through and really having the ability to just open up the possibilities for them."
- Laurie Schoen