news & perspectives

news & perspectives

Meeting the Growing Need to Prevent Child Maltreatment during COVID-19

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During these uncertain times, it is vitally important that the Children's Trust continue to support families by providing stability and guidance. Research shows programs that strengthen families and support parents keep kids safe and healthy. That’s why we are working diligently to continue providing these essential services during the pandemic.

We quickly adapted by rolling out virtual programs. Highlights include:

  • 3,500+: Number of Healthy Families Massachusetts (HFM) virtual home visits since mid-March. The Children’s Trust’s HFM program connects young, first-time parents with weekly home visits to help strengthen parenting skills and manage stress. Over 50% of the parent participants in the program had confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in their own childhoods. Home visitors in every region across Massachusetts are connecting virtually with program participants. In fact, 4 in 5 program participants have had at least one virtual visit. Program enrollment is up and requests for the following have doubled: economic and material assistance, mental health referrals, and more.
  • 6 Family Centers and 1 SAFE Child Community serving 40 cities and towns: Number of the Children’s Trust’s programs that have moved parenting support groups and playgroups online. Moving these vital services online using tools such as Facebook Live and Zoom gives parents the opportunity to connect with support staff and peers from home, reducing isolation and stress, while also giving their children opportunities for stimulation and social engagement. Parents can find a regularly updated list of online playgroups, parenting education and support groups, and other resources on our parenting website.
  • 378%: Increase in Massachusetts visitors to OneToughJob.org, a digital parenting resource. Our comprehensive parenting website, full of the latest and greatest parenting information specifically tailored to Massachusetts parents, now includes a regularly updated COVID-19 section with a wide variety of helpful information, tips, and links to resources. The site also includes an “online resource finder” where parents can search for resources by zip code and keyword to find the help they need.
  • 300%: Increase in visitors to All Babies Cry, a digital parenting resource to prevent abusive head trauma (formerly shaken baby syndrome). Parents get free, full access to helpful, evidence-based videos with practical advice from experts, parents, and grandparents. Topics include what's normal about crying, comforting your baby, self-care tips for parents, and how to cope with colic.

The pandemic did not cause the issue of child abuse or neglect in Massachusetts. As the Boston Globe recently reported, however, it will amplify it. Every parent is feeling the stress of the current situation, but for parents without support, this could be the tipping point that puts kids in danger. By continuing to offer services like those outlined above, we can protect kids and prevent a surge into the child welfare system before it’s too late.