Previewing Horizons for Homeless Children Week

(NECN: Latoyia Edwards) - Homeless children are eight times more likely to repeat a grade in school and four times more likely to have developmental delays simply because they have been homeless, according to a Massachusetts state report card on child homelessness.

In the Bay State, Horizons for Homeless Children is dedicated to ensuring these kids have a chance at a successful future.

"That old stereotype of kind of an older man under the bridge as being homeless is not actually the case of what's going on," Dianne Luby says.

Luby is president and CEO of Horizons for Homeless Children, a non-profit organization that was born out of a great need 25 years ago to help homeless families with children to excel.

Horizons provides roughly 175 kids with early childhood educational opportunities at three locations in Boston on a yearly basis.

There, children learn in a safe and welcoming classroom setting, with teachers who want them to exceed, and free from disruptions that could lead to a host of developmental delays.

"The model for our program is school readiness. That's why we have comprehensive programs that we really deal with motor development, cognitive development," Luby says.

On any given day at the 151 homeless shelters across Massachusetts, thousands of children are free to just be kids inside special Playspaces. Horizons for Homeless Children ensures that each Playspace is stocked with books, developmental toys and art supplies.

"The benefits of play and learning is why we do our Playspace programs, because some of those children are not in educational programs and so giving them that opportunity helps them with literacy skills, helps them with cognition," Luby says.

The organization wants to help make sure these children have a future that's a little more certain.

"Once you start learning what it is, and the long term effects of not having a stable family, I think that we all have to become more aware of this, we can do better than this," Luby says.

Horizons for Homeless Children receives some state funding, but it's mostly operated through the generosity of donors.

Horizons for Homeless Children Week kicks off Monday, March 10. All week, NECN is asking our viewers to help give a homeless child the chance to learn, play and thrive. Support Horizons for Homeless Children by donating now.

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