60 shoes displayed to represent average number of Berkshire County children confirmed as abused in one month
On April 10th, the Children’s Trust joined with Child Care of the Berkshires, State Senator Benjamin Downing, Representatives Gailanne Cariddi and Trisha Farley-Bouvier, District Attorney David Capeless, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, and others 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.
The “Step Up for Kids” event, held at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, featured a display of 60 shoes that represented the average number of children confirmed as abused or neglected each month in Berkshire County. The TJX Companies, Inc. donated the shoes which the Children’s Trust gave to local families in its programs.
Suzin Bartley, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust, asked the audience to support parenting education and support programs to “not only decrease bad outcomes for families, but increase good outcomes for kids.
“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,” she said.
At the event, the Children’s Trust honored Senator Downing and Representative Cariddi for their work to benefit the children and families of Berkshire County and the entire Commonwealth. Bartley presented the Children’s Trust’s Western Massachusetts Champion for Children Award to each legislator.
Senator Downing was recognized “because of his continuing commitment to children, his understanding of the importance of the Healthy Families program, and his knowledge that it does take a village to raise healthy, happy children and strong families,” Bartley said.
Healthy Families Massachusetts is an in-home parenting support and coaching program for young, first-time parents. The Children’s Trust funds the local program, Healthy Families Berkshire County, which is operated by Child Care of the Berkshires.
The Children’s Trust honored Representative Cariddi “because of her unwavering support for the children and families of Western Massachusetts,” Bartley said.
“Representative Cariddi understands how important the programs at Child Care of the Berkshires are to the fabric of the area. She is willing to take her support to Boston, making sure that the entire state knows the importance of growing up healthy, happy and strong in the Berkshires.”
Christina Embry, a parent in Healthy Families Berkshire County, spoke about how the program has benefited herself, her husband, Scott, and their 1½-year-old son, Scott Jr.
Other speakers included Cynthia Brown, Interim President of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts; Anne Nemetz-Carlson, Executive Director of Child Care of the Berkshires, and Carolyn Mower Burns, President and CEO of Berkshire Children and Families.
In Berkshire County, the Children’s Trust funds funds:
- Healthy Families Berkshire County, an in-home parenting support and coaching program for young, first-time parents
- The Family Resource Center of Northern Berkshire County in North Adams, where families meet, build parenting skills, and receive access to resources
- “Parenting the Positive Disciple Way,” a parenting support and education group in North Adams.
The Children’s Trust also funds the local division of the Fathers & Family Network, a statewide networking and training group for professionals who work with fathers. Berkshire Children and Families operates that program in Berkshire County.