Executive Director Suzin Bartley, House Speaker Ronald Mariano, and Board Member Anna Lucey
We kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month on Tuesday, April 6, with a virtual event to brief members of the Legislature about how the pandemic is impacting parental needs and how to implement proven child abuse prevention strategies. We were thrilled to honor Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senator William Brownsberger for their work supporting policies that seek to end child abuse in the Commonwealth.
“With families experiencing stress at unimaginable levels and isolation at an all time high, parents are looking for support to help them through these difficult times. Whether through virtual home visits or increased access to online resources for parents, we have been able to provide families the uninterrupted support they need to keep kids safe and families strong,” said Suzin Bartley, Executive Director. “Parents need support now more than ever and we are grateful to have a Legislature in Massachusetts that understands the power of prevention and supports programs that keep kids safe from abuse.”
Bartley briefed legislators and their staff about the growth in demand for family support services during the pandemic and our upstream, multi-pronged approach that uses proven strategies to support families. Our Healthy Families program, which connects home visitors with young, first-time parents to help them build stable, nurturing environments for their children, has held 24,678 home visits since March 15, 2020.
Speaker Mariano and Senator Brownsberger were honored for their long-term commitment to preventing child abuse and their work to support programs that keep children safe.
“The House of Representatives will continue its longstanding legacy of prioritizing efforts to protect our most vulnerable children and promote support services to stop child abuse,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano. “I share the deep concern of the Children’s Trust about the impact of the pandemic and would like to thank them for their tireless work to help our children and families during these difficult times.”
Senator Brownsberger has also been actively engaged in expanding access to programs and strategies that prevent child sexual abuse since he entered the Legislature over a decade ago.
“There are a whole lot of people in the Legislature who care about child sexual abuse and the welfare of children. So that means that all of us are grateful for the work the Children’s Trust does and continues to do as we struggle through the COVID recession,” said Senator Brownsberger. “Thank you to the Children’s Trust for your very important work.”
Each award was followed by a video of a Healthy Families program participant describing how Healthy Families has supported them through the pandemic.
“It felt like I was in a sinking boat and without Healthy Families, I might have let the boat sink,” said program participant Kenddy Diaz.
“Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘Trust the process?’ Healthy Families is the embodiment of the word ‘Trust,’ as they believed in me, even when I lost confidence in myself.”
“Healthy Families helped me learn how to raise my son with love and patience. I am raising my son differently than how I was raised,” said program participant Midalia Ramos.
“Healthy Families had a lot to do with helping me understand where the differences were in my upbringing and my son's. They helped me to break the cycle that I went through and that my parents went through. They were abused when they were younger so that’s what they learned. I want him to experience the happiness I’ve found now at 22 years old.”
Our Family Centers and Parenting Education and Support Programs also continued to see demand from parents after they moved parent support groups and playgroups online, with 1,044 online groups attended by children and families in 2020.
We also saw an increase in use of our online parenting resources in 2020:
- A 159% increase in Massachusetts-based visitors to our parenting support website, onetoughjob.org, which provides guidance and support for parents struggling during the pandemic.
- A 255% increase to AllBabiesCry.org, which provides infant caregivers with videos and resources about how to comfort crying babies, including self-care tips and information about normal crying behavior of infants.
- The Massachusetts Legislative Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, co-chaired by the Children’s Trust, launched a first-of-its-kind child sexual abuse prevention website which saw more than 1,500 users in just the last 2 months of 2020.
The Children’s Trust develops programs and influences public policies that build Protective Factors that support the overall well-being of children and their families. Protective Factors serve as buffers that help families cope, achieve, and thrive, even during times of extreme stress.