News & Perspectives

News & Perspectives

Children’s Trust Announces Commonwealth’s First Financial Support Program for Young, First-Time Parents in Springfield


Pilot program will provide $500 per month to Springfield parents enrolled in Healthy Families Massachusetts program  

BOSTON, MA (June 15, 2023 The Children’s Trust today announced that it has launched the first financial support program specifically designed to assist young, first-time parents in Massachusetts. Starting today, the pilot program will provide cash assistance to parents enrolled in the Children’s Trust’s Healthy Families program in Springfield. Healthy Families connects young, first-time parents to a home visitor during pregnancy and the first three years of the child’s life.  

“We know that stress is a major driver of child abuse and neglect. The goal of this program is to help families reduce financial stress and create safer and more nurturing environments for children,” said Jennifer Valenzuela, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust. “Child welfare involvement is closely connected to poverty. Over 85% of reports are for neglect so we know child welfare involvement can be reduced by addressing financial hardship.” 

Program participants will receive $500 per month for the first 15 months, then three additional monthly payments of $550, $650, and $750, respectively, for a total of 18 months. Participants who enroll in the financial assistance program while pregnant will receive a lower monthly stipend of $100. Upon the baby’s birth, parents are then eligible to receive regular monthly payments to help support the transition to parenting and the baby’s first months. There are currently 65 families enrolled in the pilot, which can fund up to 100 families. The Children’s Trust will also offer optional financial skill-building courses to program participants. 

Because Healthy Families program participants meet with home visitors regularly, the first-of-its-kind financial assistance program is unique in its built-in case management component as well as access to referrals for other basic family needs.  

Children’s Trust programs use proven approaches, such as the Protective Factors framework, that support family well-being to prevent abuse and neglect. Developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the Protective Factors framework is a research-driven approach that identifies five key conditions which must be in place to support the optimal well-being of children and families: parental resilience, knowledge of parenting and child development, social connections, concrete support in times of need, and social and emotional development of children. 

The Healthy Families program in Springfield is administered through SquareOne, a family center that provides family support and education programs.  

"Square One has been serving families in the greater Springfield area for over 140 years.  We know that families experiencing economic stability are far more likely to maintain confidence in parenting leading to strengthened family well-being and attention to the healthy development of their children,” said Dawn DiStefano, President & CEO of Square One. “Funding that supports basic needs opens the doors of possibility to focus on education, skills training and employment leading to long term stability and family growth." 

Children with low socioeconomic status are seven times more likely to experience neglect and five times more likely to experience maltreatment. Approximately 90% percent of families enrolled in Healthy Families Massachusetts are eligible for public health insurance programs indicating that the majority of families in the program experience low socioeconomic status. Financial hardships disproportionately affect families of color, which contributes to disparities in child welfare involvement.  

Research from Chapin Hall demonstrates that low-income families who experience at least one material hardship are three times more likely to be involved in a neglect investigation and four times more likely to be involved in a child abuse investigation. Provision of economic and concrete supports is associated with reduced risk for both neglect and physical abuse. 

The Children’s Trust already measures outcomes and impact for families enrolled in the Healthy Family program through a partnership with Tufts University and will be able to compare outcomes from families in Springfield, who have access to the financial assistance program, to families in other Healthy Families programs across Massachusetts. 


About the Children’s Trust  

The Children’s Trust is on a mission to end child abuse in Massachusetts. As the only statewide child abuse prevention organization, we work with a network of over one hundred of the most innovative local community organizations across the Commonwealth to provide programming that improves outcomes for children and families. Our programs partner with parents to help them build the lifelong skills and self-confidence they need to ensure children grow up safe and healthy. Learn more at