On March 23, Governor Charlie Baker joined the Children’s Trust to announce April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to recognize that working with families early to ensure they are strong and healthy is the surest way to keep kids safe.
Approximately 150 people attended the 10th annual “Step Up for Kids” event including Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler.
The event featured a display of 390 shoes covering the Grand Staircase of the State House. The display represented the average number of children confirmed as abused or neglected each week in Massachusetts. The TJX Companies, Inc. donated the shoes which the Children’s Trust donated to families in its programs.
“Every child wants to grow up in a loving home, and Children’s Trust is working to strengthen our families and end child abuse by engaging early with parental support,” said Governor Baker, who issued the proclamation of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“As a program that works to bring awareness and education, they serve as a constant reminder for us that our goal is not complete until there is not a single pair of shoes left on the State House steps,” the Governor said.
James Rooney, Chair of the Board of Directors at the Children’s Trust and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, said “Last year, there were 410 shoes lining the State House steps. We see the lower number as a signal that family support programs are working. But we know there is a lot more work to be done to accomplish our mission of preventing child abuse and neglect.”
Suzin Bartley, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust, said “It’s said that selling a cure to a problem is a lot easier than selling prevention. It’s normal for folks to focus on the problem in front of them and want to fix it. It is harder to focus on preventing the problem in the first place. And that continues to be our longtime challenge.”
At the event, the Children’s Trust honored two state legislators whose work has benefited the children and families of Massachusetts. Senator Majority Leader Chandler (D-Worcester) received the Valuing Our Children Award, presented by Senate President Rosenberg. House Speaker DeLeo (D-Winthrop) received the award from George Atanasov, a Member of the Board of Directors at the Children’s Trust and Vice President of Government Relations & Counsel at ML Strategies, and an Associate at Mintz Levin.
Three parents told how programs supported by the Children Trust help them to create nurturing homes for their children.
Jamielyn Maldonado of Worcester participates in Healthy Families, an in-home parenting support and coaching program for first-time, young parents.
“When I was stuck not knowing what to do and not knowing how to handle certain situations with my child, my home visitor was always there guiding me through steps. Because of Healthy Families, I am the parent I always dreamed to be. And, my son is growing up healthy and happy,” she said.
Katherine Carranza of East Boston, a participant in the same program, said “It is because of your efforts that I am able to stand here today. It is because of you that I am in school. It is because of you that my daughter, Camila, who’s now age 14 months, and I have a bright future. And I want to thank you for everything.”
Dylan Lach, a graduate of the Nurturing Fathers Program in Worcester, a 13-week strength-based parenting group, said “Through bettering myself, I know I am making a better life for my children and me. Today, I am grateful to stand before you as not only a father, but as a nurturing dad that my children deserve.”