Many children who have experienced homelessness have also suffered trauma, which can have a lasting impact on their development. Witnessing or enduring acts of violence, living through multiple transitions of short-term residences or caregivers, and issues related to poverty and stress, create conditions that require specific skills for professionals who work with children.
Lesley University teaches those skills and now we’re teaching those skills to the staff of the acclaimed Horizons for Homeless Children.
Horizons for Homeless Children, a Boston-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of young homeless children and their families, has partnered with Lesley University to provide its staff with the opportunity to earn a Certificate in Child Homelessness Studies – the first and only certificate of its kind offered in the United States. Lesley will bring its unique program to Horizons’ Roxbury campus, where the first cohort of 22 students will begin their classes this September.
“Bringing professional development opportunities within reach of our staff is one way we’re making Horizons for Homeless Children a leader in the field and an excellent place to work. We know what we invest in training, with the help of generous donors, helps our employees and improves our outcomes for the families we support,” said Horizons CEO Kate Barrand.
The Child Homelessness Studies certificate is a 15-credit program designed to provide students with a multi-disciplinary understanding of the origins and nature of child homelessness, and intervention strategies for children and families in transition, from trauma-focused psychological approaches and case management, to housing and shelter initiatives, as well as policy-level advocacy. Completing all five courses leads to a Certificate in Child Homelessness Studies from Lesley, with the cost of enrollment covered by the University and Horizons.
This joint venture will also provide Lesley University with an opportunity to hear and learn from those who are direct practitioners in the space.
“Our mutual goal is to address the complex, and often invisible, nature of homelessness and associated trauma, in part through relationships with highly skilled and knowledgeable educators and human service providers,” said Lisa Fiore, professor and director of the Child Homelessness Initiative. “This partnership will broaden the impact of our curriculum, and will, in turn, inform new strategies and advocacy efforts to support the development of our nation’s youngest citizens.”
Amy Karewa, corporate relations coordinator, is participating in the first cohort. She said, “The coursework will provide me another level of understanding and knowledge, invaluable in my work to further Horizons’ mission. The better we all understand the causes of homelessness, the more effectively we can work together to eliminate it.”