No child should be without a home.
Established by Lesley University in May 2011 with support from the Schoen Family Foundation, the Child Homelessness in Massachusetts Initiative is designed to bring attention to the growing number of children and families without adequate shelter in the Commonwealth. According to the Urban Institute, in the United States, "on any given day over 200,000 children are homeless." One child in fifty in the United States is likely to experience chronic or episodic homelessness before reaching age six. Of the children most likely to experience homelessness, twenty-five percent have suffered from physical abuse and neglect. In Massachusetts upwards of 20,000 to 50,000 children experienced homelessness in 2010, the latest year for which there is government data.
Each fall Lesley and the Schoen Family Foundation will sponsor a national conversation on child homelessness. Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, the Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the founding director of the university-wide Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, is the invited inaugural lecturer. Jack's mission is to bring sound science to bear on public policy decisions affecting the lives of young children. For the next five years Lesley University will host the conversation.
In addition to planning this event each year, Lesley will also support the initiative by creating internship opportunities relevant to child homelessness in Massachusetts. During FY12, the director of the Internship program and division leaders and faculty in Education, Psychology and Applied Therapies, and Social Sciences (where Child Studies is housed), will monitor student internship experiences and assess lessons learned as a way to recreate a post-internship seminar Capstone on Child Homelessness for Education, Applied Therapies, and Child Studies majors. The capstone will alternatively focus on policy advocacy and neuroscience's role in reversing the pernicious cognitive impacts of homelessness, hunger and poverty on children. This integration of seminar and capstone/field services work on child homelessness should enhance students' confidence in their ability to work with homeless children and shelters and to anticipate the learning challenges facing homeless students. Lesley students will emerge as child advocates and faculty will intentionally create learning goals to assess student proficiency and efficacy as child advocates and teachers of homeless children. Our goal is to ensure that at least 10 students per year will have opportunities to work with and observe how homeless children cope with physical, socio-emotional and economic challenges even as they play and learn.
Throughout the five-year project, development of on-line resources to share information, research findings, data and best practices will be available and promoted specifically through our alumni website and our National Center for Teachers, Counselors and School Leaders web presence. Webinars on issues related to working with homeless children will also be offered and promoted nationally through our Lesley alumni network and educational partnerships.
Undergraduate Study Abroad
Foreign Languages at Lesley
News from 29 Mellen
Child Homelessness Initiative
College of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
2011 Conference Presentations Archive
Dean Coleman's Interview with Laurie Schoen
Year One Inquiry
Year Two Inquiry
Reflections on World Homelessness
Partnerships in Policy / Advocacy
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