It is not hard to understand why teachers would be key identifiers of the children and families in need of services. 7 years ago, as the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless was offering homelessness prevention resources in a public school, a teacher approached an advocate with a very important inquiry. What she was seeing day in and day out was her low-income students coming to school tired because they were not sleeping well the night before. The reason? They did not have an actual bed of their own. That one inquiry years ago launched A Bed for Every Child, an initiative with a mission to deliver a free twin bed set to every child in Massachusetts that needs one. Since inception, A Bed for Every Child has delivered over 7,000 beds to the homes of low-income children in communities in which we all live and work. That is 7,000 kids sleeping tight tonight because of the hard work of our staff and partners and the generous support of our funders.
Now, during COVID-19, A Bed for Every Child is experiencing an influx of requests. Most of the families we are serving are considered essential workers performing daily duties as delivery drivers, warehouse staff, grocery clerks and home health aides. These parents are highly concerned about continuing to share a bed with their child. In early April, A Bed for Every Child began implementing curbside deliveries in order to keep everyone safe. Our truck pulls up, calls the family, places the bed curbside, then calls again to confirm they received everything they needed.
As we all know, sleep plays a significant role in a child’s development both physically and mentally, including their ability to learn. The American Sleep Association, who endorses the work of A Bed for Every Child, has done research in this area which shows that lack of sleep has a negative impact on a student’s concentration, memory, and ability to learn. Studies have shown that for children, the amount of sleep they are able to get directly impacts their academic potential and children who have more sleep achieve higher in math, science, and reading. In contrast, children who get little sleep are more likely to have behavioral problems, be prone to general moodiness, and have difficulty studying, test taking, remembering what they have learned, and thriving to their full potential.
We wanted to share with you some demographics from last year’s bed deliveries. A Bed for Every child delivered 2,803 beds last year across MA. We had the opportunity to connect with 2,757 parents to ask what their child’s sleeping arrangement was before their bed delivery.
Here were the results:
• 548 were toddlers who needed a bed to transition into from their crib or other sleeping arrangement.
• 631 were children who were sharing a bed with a sibling.
• 278 were children sleeping with their parent(s).
• 375 were children sleeping on the floor without a mattress.
• 474 were children sleeping on a couch.
• 125 were children who had experienced bed bugs.
• 204 were children who were sleeping on a broken mattress.
• 122 were children who were sleeping on an air mattress.
Although each child had a different reason as to why they did not have a bed of their own, they all had one thing in common, they were not getting stably, healthy sleep. Now, because of A Bed for Every Child, they are sleeping tight and dreaming big! For more information or ways you can help, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org