Seven years ago, advocates from the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless were offering homeless prevention resources for families at a public school when a teacher approached them. The teacher shared that many of her students were coming to school extremely tired because they did not have a bed. Knowing that many of the students’ parents simply could not afford to purchase one, she wondered if the Coalition could help get beds for some of her students. That one inquiry launched A Bed for Every Child, a program that works with public schools, as well as other community organizations, to provide access to free new twin beds for children in need throughout Massachusetts.
It is not hard to understand why teachers would be key identifiers of these children, as we know sleep plays a significant role in a child’s 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 living up to their potential.
Although A Bed for Every Child knows that a bed alone is not going to solve poverty, we do know that giving a child all the tools they need to receive an education can help them break the cycle and lift them out of poverty as an adult.