PLATINUM2024

Horizons For Homeless Children Inc

Roxbury, MA   |  www.horizonschildren.org

Mission

Horizons for Homeless Children improves the lives of young homeless children in Massachusetts and helps their families to succeed by providing high quality early education, opportunities for play, and comprehensive family support services.

Notes from the nonprofit

The influx of migrants into Massachusetts on top of sufficient housing stock has generated housing scarcity problems across the state. An article in the Concord Bridge about a family shelter opening in Concord highlighted the ways in which the community had positively responded, including Horizons for Homeless Children opening two Playspaces for the children in the shelter, as well as in shelters statewide, to counteract the trauma caused by homelessness and its impact on child development. Horizons was thrilled and honored to be selected as a partner of Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, to assist them with their major initiative to offer help and hope to the growing number of young children across the country experiencing homelessness. Horizons helped to inform the content behind a series of professional development videos, articles, and strategies for providers who play a crucial role in supporting children experiencing homelessness.

Ruling year info

1993

Principal Officer

Ms. Kate Barrand

Main address

1785 Columbus Avenue

Roxbury, MA 02119 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

The Horizons Initiative

EIN

22-2915188

NTEE code info

Child Day Care (P33)

Kindergarten, Nursery Schools, Preschool, Early Admissions (B21)

Family Services (P40)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The number of families experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts continues to increase, to the point where Governor Healey declared a state of emergency. The recent influx of migrants and the high cost of rents exacerbates the problem. And it is the very young children who are the most impacted by the traumas of the homelessness experience. According to the American Public Health Association, the experience of homelessness can result in "toxic stress," triggering a range of harmful biochemical impacts on the developing child, including abnormal brain development. Moreover, children living in shelter have few if any toys and books and limited access to play, which is vital for their development. High-quality, trauma-informed early education and access to developmental play can reduce the detrimental effects of toxic stress and trauma caused by homelessness and prevent an achievement gap when the children enter school that often is difficult if not impossible to overcome.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Early Education Program

We believe that by supporting the social-emotional, physical, and cognitive development of young homeless children, engaging their families, and delivering high-quality teaching, children served by our early education program will be ready to succeed in school. Our early education program provides comprehensive, trauma-informed early education for 225 children ages 2 months through 5 years old who are living in shelters when enrolled. It utilizes an evidence-based pre-school curriculum and the Center for the Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning Pyramid approach to enhance social emotional development. A low child/teacher ratio ensures that every child gets the attention s/he needs, and we provide two healthy meals and a snack each day, as well as T passes. Through our two-generational approach, our Family Advocates utilize the evidence-based Mobility Mentoring model created by EMPath to work with the parents of the children to provide coaching, support, and needed referrals, to assist them in identifying and accomplishing their goals.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Homeless people

Horizons founded the Playspace Program in 1990 in the belief that all children have a right to play, play is key for healthy development in young children, and play is how children heal from trauma. To make healthy play possible for children living in shelters, we build and maintain developmentally appropriate and trauma-informed, ""kid-friendly"" spaces and stock them with books, toys, and arts & crafts materials. These spaces would not exist otherwise, and they make it possible for young homeless children to engage in critical learning and healing activities. The Playspaces serve children in infancy to early elementary school age and help each child engage in important development activities and heal from the trauma of homelessness. Careful attention is paid to trauma informed aspects such as calm lighting, defined areas of play, and opportunities for choice. Each week over 2,000 children take advantage of the Playspaces in more than 90 programs serving homeless families statewide.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Children
Homeless people

As a direct service provider, we see the impact of legislative action and regulatory policies on the families we serve. Our Policy and Advocacy initiative educates policymakers and the public on the needs of homeless children and families, and advocates for state and federal policies that will improve the lives of all young homeless children and their families. Our focus is on advocating for improvements in the systems targeted towards homeless children and families, and advocating for the removal of barriers that make it impossible for homeless families to access resources.

Population(s) Served
Families
Homeless people

As part of the work of our early education program, we engage parents in their children's education and help them to see the importance of their role in their children's future. Because parents play such a key role, we utilize a two-generational, whole-family approach to support both the child and the family to ensure success. Through this approach, we look to strengthen families' protective factors and build on their strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. Family Advocates work with parents from the time of enrollment regarding establishing and reaching their goals and transitioning their families to permanent housing and their children from Horizons to kindergarten. We provide opportunities for parents to engage in classroom, center, and networking activities, along with workshops in parenting skills, child development, and a variety of life skills, such as health, nutrition, and financial literacy.

Population(s) Served
Families
Homeless people

Where we work

Accreditations

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - 5 Year Accreditation

Awards

State Top Ten School Readiness Organization 2010

Root Cause Social Impact Research

External assessments

Evaluated via the Impact Genome Project (2019)

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of children exceeding 80% school attendance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Infants and toddlers, Children, Homeless people, Extremely poor people

Related Program

Early Education Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Homeless people, Children, Infants and toddlers, Extremely poor people, Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Early Education Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of goals achieved by families

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Homeless people, Adults, Parents, Caregivers, Extremely poor people

Related Program

Family Partnerships Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of meals served or provided

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children, Infants and toddlers, Homeless people, Extremely poor people, Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Early Education Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

There is over a 50% increase in meals served from 2021 to 2023 as more children have been able to attend post-COVID

Number of Playspace shifts operated

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children, Infants and toddlers, Homeless people, Extremely poor people, Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Playspace Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Playspace was closed due to COVID until April 2021 and many were still closed in 2022. But we had over 200% more shifts in 2023 than 2021

Number of active Playspace Activity Leaders (PALs)

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children, Infants and toddlers, Homeless people, Extremely poor people, Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Playspace Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We had to close many Playspace shifts due to COVID previously but are now rebounding in 2024

Number of community activities held for families

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Families, Parents, Caregivers, Homeless people, Extremely poor people

Related Program

Family Partnerships Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We've dramatically increased the number of community activities for parents since COVID

Number of children served in Universal Pre-K

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children, Infants and toddlers, Homeless people, Extremely poor people, Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Early Education Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We opened 2 new UPK classrooms in 2022, we now operate 5.

Number of families served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Families, Homeless people, Extremely poor people, Immigrants and migrants, Working poor

Related Program

Family Partnerships Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of parents served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Parents, Homeless people, Extremely poor people, Working poor

Related Program

Family Partnerships Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We've seen a gradual increase in the number of two-parent families served the last few years.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our vision is that every homeless child will have the opportunity to learn, play, and thrive. Homeless children have twice the rate of learning disabilities and three times the rate of emotional-behavioral disorders than children who are housed. For parents, homelessness is a traumatic experience that leaves them feeling very dis-empowered. At Horizons, we provide high-quality early education and opportunities for play so children can keep up with their peers. We support their families and help them reclaim that power, so they're able to get their families on a path to future success. Our major goals are to: improve the lives of the children we serve over the long term; connect their parents with the tools they need to achieve social and economic self-sufficiency; and provide leadership in advocating for homeless children and their families.

We believe that by supporting the social-emotional, physical, and cognitive development of homeless children, engaging their families in the children's education, and delivering high-quality teaching, homeless children participating in our programs will be ready to succeed in school and their parents will be ready to support that success. High quality early education can reduce the effects of stress and trauma caused by homelessness and it is the most effective way to ensure future school and life success of homeless children, preventing the achievement gap that so often occurs. As parental engagement is key to a child's success, we believe that it is important to provide families with additional support services such as parenting classes and connections to community services, educational opportunities, workforce training, and financial literacy classes.

Horizons for Homeless Children is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' leading organization devoted exclusively to serving homeless children and families. We have been in existence for more than 30 years. Thanks to our specially trained staff, whose efforts are supported and amplified by thousands of committed volunteers and donors, Horizons provides hope and opportunity to the families we serve. We do this through our four major pillars:

Early Education Program - Horizons operates one of the state's top-ranked early education programs, which starts children along the path toward success at school. Our early education program in Boston is licensed by the state and fully accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), an accreditation received by only 15% of childcare centers nationwide. In addition to the NAEYC evaluations, the program is also evaluated by the state Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC) and ranks in the top 5% of early education centers statewide as measured by DEEC's Quality Rating Information System.

Playspace Program - Horizons is the only organization in the state that provides a safe, trauma-informed, well-equipped space and quality play to young children living in shelters and trained volunteers to engage in developmentally appropriate play with them. We give children living in shelters throughout the state play experiences that let them learn through play and just be kids, allowing them to leave aside the trauma of not having a permanent home.

Family Partnerships Program - Our highly trained Family Advocates and other Family Partnerships Program staff provide support, encouragement, and practical guidance toward getting our families' lives back on track. Through the use of the Mobility Mentoring approach, we help families to develop goals, identify action steps to accomplish them, and provide the referrals, resources, and support they need to achieve them.

Policy and Advocacy - We give homeless children and families - who are always vulnerable and often forgotten - a strong and compelling voice in government through our work with legislators and policymakers.

Horizons now operates Playspaces in more than 60 shelters across the state, in every region of the state. The shelters are extremely grateful since they are focused on the needs of the adults and getting the families housed, they are not equipped to provide the opportunities for the children living there that Horizons does. In the early education program, we provide high-quality early education to up to 225 children each day, and support to their parents. The children that we serve in our program show developmental progress and many show marked improvement. Those going on to school are well-equipped for kindergarten work. Some of our children do so well they are placed in advanced classes. An example of the impact our centers have can be seen in the example of Amanda. When Amanda first entered Horizons, she was extremely withdrawn and would not speak. The trauma of being homeless-of sleeping in a different place every night and not having consistent routine-had destroyed her sense of security. Her teachers patiently used sign language and slowly built her confidence through dramatic play. By the time she left her preschool classroom, Amanda was a chatty little girl excited to learn about butterflies and science. She came back to visit the staff at the Horizons early education center to share her report card. She was on the honor roll.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback

Financials

Horizons For Homeless Children Inc
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Horizons For Homeless Children Inc

Board of directors
as of 04/17/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Michael Roberge

MFS Investment Management

Term: 2023 - 2026

Michael Eisenson

Charlesbank Capital Partners

Matt Epstein

Goulston & Storrs

Kathy Klingler

Brightcove

Kate O'Neil

Private Investor

Glenn Engler

Bain & Company

Chip Hazard

Flybridge Capital Partners

Ryan Debin

Arena Capital Partners, LLC

Greg Morzano

Old Ironsides Energy LLC

Timothy Estella

Fidelity Investments

Karen Walsh

MFS Investment Management

Elizabeth Crowley

Burns and Levinson

Barbara Shapiro

Community Volunteer

Lauren Mazzella

Community Volunteer

Rahim Rajpar

Plum Life

Steven Principe

Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management

Liz Vanzura

V2 Marketing & Entertainment, LLC

Maita Vert Crocker

State Street Corporation

Sue O'Connell

Retired, Wellington Management

Scott Haig

The Baupost Group

Kate Lubin

The United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley

Bronwen Carroll

Boston Medical Center

Pamela Mann

Beverly Hospital

George Foreman III

Craft Boxing

Orlando Watkins

The Boston Foundation

Christine Scordato

Crescente Advisors

EJ Whelan

Berkshire Partners

Carl Long

Cabot Corporation

Yvonne Lynch

Bright Horizons

Victoria Sullivan

Classroom Volunteer

Brian Sung

J.S. Enterprises, Inc.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/4/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/25/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.