A Bed for Every Child Initiative
The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless’ HomeLink Initiative partners with public schools to assist at-risk families of students to avoid becoming homeless. As part of this partnership, the Coalition has been able to assist many parents who need assistance with material items such a clothing and household furniture. Over the past year, HomeLink learned that many of the students in the schools did not have a bed, and were sleeping on the floor or with a sibling.
Many of the students’ families have had an infestation of bed bugs – a growing epidemic in many urban areas, forcing them to throw out their beds without being able to afford to buy new ones. Even more families are living in poverty and can not afford to buy a bed in at all. Although a bed may not seem like the most pressing social issue, it does have a major affect on a child’s ability to come to school prepared to learn, which can have long term consequences on their education. In Massachusetts, statistics indicate that 23% of students have the potential of not graduating.
To break the cycle of poverty, we know we have to give these children all the tools they need to assist them in their education. One of these is a bed. To meet this goal, the agency launched A Bed for Every Child Initiative, where we are raising funds to purchase a twin mattress, frame and linens for each student referred to us by our partners. Presently, we are working with the Lynn Public Schools to ensure each student referred to us will have a bed delivered to their home.
For over 25 years, the Coalition has operated the Furniture Bank which stabilizes over 3,000 households a year transitioning from homelessness to their own home by providing donated furniture and household goods to make a house a home. This program has a proven history of operating with maximum efficiency and cost effectiveness. Leveraging this experience and a network of partners, A Bed for Every Child will undertake outreach, build awareness of the need, and provide beds to children through this new collaboration. Our goal over the next 12 months is to distribute 1,500 beds to children in need who are attending school. As funds become available, we will have an additional goal of expanding to schools in Boston.