Thanks to the support of our community, Horizons was able to meet the extraordinary needs of parents and children experiencing homelessness over the past year. Here’s a recap of the year’s most significant moments, challenges, and triumphs (yes, there were some things to celebrate in 2020!)
Horizons was selected to partner with Boston Public Schools as a Universal Pre-k provider, strengthening our curriculum to better prepare children for future academic success. Meanwhile, Horizons staff deepened their work with families through a partnership with the Brazelton Institute at Children’s Hospital. These partnerships, and many others with leading practitioners, ensure our team continues to provide the highest level of expertise in our programs.
In March, we closed our classrooms and Playspaces due to the pandemic, and our staff pivoted to meet the immediate needs of our families who were confined to shelter rooms. Horizons provided 100% of the families in our Family Partnerships Program gift cards and other financial support, distributing diapers and wipes, groceries, activity kits and more to shelters across the state. Family Advocates helped connect our families to additional resources for housing, food, and mental health support.
In June, as the country confronted injustices rooted in race, Horizons reaffirmed our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continue to look closely at how these issues intersect with Horizons’ ability to fulfill its mission for the children and families we serve, 77% of whom are Black, Hispanic or multiracial.
In July, our Early Education Centers safely reopened, providing access to our trauma-informed classrooms and mental health support, upon which our families rely. From providing a nutritional breakfast, snacks and a hot lunch each day to providing access to resources, these services are and continue to be essential to children across 17 classrooms and their parents who are pursuing career and educational goals.
In the fall, we piloted outdoor Playspace shifts in select shelters with new health and safety protocols and a plan to launch the program state-wide in the springtime. This added to Playspaces’ list of incredible innovations over the past year, including delivering 2,012 kits with age-appropriate books and activities to shelters, to creating online content utilized by 820 families.
At the end of the year, our community and corporate partners helped Horizons’ team provide new coats, boots, toys, gift cards and more to families living in shelters across the state. Every day, children in our early education centers continue to learn, play and grow as parents in our Family Partnerships Program make sustainable progress towards moving their families out of homelessness.
The pandemic has disproportionately impacted families experiencing homelessness but your help this year helped us overcome those seemingly insurmountable challenges. On behalf of all of us, thank you for stepping up for families across Massachusetts who rely on Horizons.
The team at Horizons