Our Story

For more than 30 years Horizons has worked to improve the lives of homeless families in Massachusetts. Founders Linda Mason, Roger Brown, and Michael Eisenson identified the many needs of children and families who didn’t have the means for best-in-class day care and early childhood education.  They established the Horizons Fund in 1988 as an independent organization which shared office space with Bright Horizons for the first couple of years. In the following years Horizons made a name for itself as Horizons for Homeless Children, a vital non-profit in Massachusetts working to address the crisis of child homelessness. Since 1988, Horizons has grown into a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) providing high quality early-education, vital opportunities for play and crucial related supports to families experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts.

In 1990, more than 1/3 of female-headed families in the U.S. live in poverty.

At Horizons, the 1st Playspace opens offering play opportunities to homeless children, establishing Horizons’ volunteer corps.

In 1994, childcare costs soar while minimum wage remains stagnant. Full time workers earn on average $8,840 per year.

Recognizing the value of early education for young children, Horizons opens its first early education center in Dorchester, serving 45 children from 8 local family shelters. Within the year, the program expands to serve 71 children from 12 family shelters.

In 2000, The City of Boston Homeless Census reports the number of homeless children has grown 110% since 1990.

To meet the need, Horizons expands and opens the Putnam Investments Community Children’s Center in Jamaica Plain, serving an additional 55 children. Meanwhile, the Playspace volunteer roster reaches 400 across 35 shelters each week.

In 2006, the nationwide family homelessness trend continues and 1.6 million American children— 1 in 45—are homeless each year.

With the help of a growing network of supporters, Horizons opens the Edgerley Family Community Children’s Center in Roxbury. Recognizing the connection between early childhood development and mental health, Horizons partners with JF&CS to increase access to mental health services.

Between 2008 and 2010 Massachusetts experiences one of the largest increases in family homelessness in the country, second only to New York City, according to the Boston Foundation.

Horizons continues to enrich and broaden its services. CSEFL-based trauma informed practices are integrated into programming across the organization. Music and STEM are added into classroom based activities.

In 2016, more than half of all homeless people in families with children are concentrated in five U.S. states. Massachusetts is one of them.

The Family Partnership Program adopts Mobility Mentoring as the model used to mentor parents and help them break the cycle of homelessness.

In 2018, there are more than 18,000 homeless children under the age of six in Massachusetts.

Horizons breaks ground on a new building, a unique public/private joint venture dedicated to transforming the education, health and well-being of at-risk children and families in Boston. Horizons initiates steps to become part of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center’s Site Network, a community using the Touchpoints approach in family engagement strategies.

In 2019 – 1 out of every 24 children in Massachusetts experiences homelessness.

As Horizons for Homeless Children celebrates its 30th year, we look back on our success and dedication to our mission in a community that made it possible, while looking forward to a future investing in our people, and the families we support.

Horizons Staff Photo 2019
2019 Horizons Staff Photo
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