Friends of the Children: Supporting Our Kids Through This Crisis

Friends of the Children is working to break the cycle of generational poverty, even in the age of COVID-19.

April 8, 2020

Noah* is an elementary school student in Boston who lives in a household with an immune-compromised caretaker. As the members of Noah’s family grapple with serious health concerns during the COVID-19 crisis, they are also struggling to access Noah’s online school-work so that he can keep up. When Friends of the Children heard about the technology challenges that were threatening Noah’s ability to move on to the next grade, the nonprofit’s staff members stepped in to help. They worked with an internet provider until a secure connection was confirmed and contacted Noah’s teacher so that lesson plans could be emailed to an office where they could be printed out and delivered to his home. And they kept the channels of communication open between the family and the Department of Children and Family Services, which is monitoring Noah’s situation because he is considered to be at risk of intervention from DCF.

Friends of the Children, Boston, is the independent nonprofit chapter of a national organization that is dedicated to breaking the cycle of generational poverty. It does this by providing each child in its program with a “Friend,” a salaried, professional mentor who stays with a child from kindergarten through graduation.
Yi Chin Chen, Executive Director of Friends of the Children Boston
Yi Chin Chen, Executive Director of Friends of the Children, Boston
Data from a recent Boston Indicators report, Kids Today, shows that, nearly 60 percent of students attending the Boston Public Schools are economically disadvantaged, meaning that they participate in one or more of the state’s welfare programs (SNAP, Medicaid, etc.). Boston’s schools have a 25 percent higher share of economically disadvantaged students than the state as a whole.

“It’s the resilience of the families and our mentors that gives me hope when it comes to the welfare of the children we serve during this crisis,” says Yi-Chin Chen, Executive Director of Friends of Children, Boston. “And the speed with which our staff responds to each situation. It’s truly remarkable. We are a relational organization and so working with kids like Noah from afar is heartbreaking. But our staff members are finding ways to bring a lot of joy into the lives of the children we work with every day.”

*Not his real name  

This is one in a series of stories from the front-lines of Greater Boston’s nonprofit response to COVID-19. While we are all struggling to cope with this crisis, these nonprofits are treating the most vulnerable among us, and TBF is proud to have supported them through our COVID-19 Response Fund. Boston Indicators is providing valuable data and analysis for these stories.

Visit for more on the COVID-19 Response Fund.