News & Perspectives

News & Perspectives

Stepping Up to End Child Abuse

Children's Trust Executive Director, Jenn Valenzuela (center) with Children's Trust Board Members Eric Solfisburg, George Regan, Tom Tinlin, and Anne Gilligan

On Tuesday, April 25, 2023 Children's Trust volunteers, supporters, program partners, board members, and legislators gathered for our annual Step Up for Kids event at the Massachusetts State House. 85 pairs of shoes were on display to represent the average number of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect every day in Massachusetts.

Step Up for Kids recognizes the impact of the evidence-based programs and leaders in Massachusetts that provide critical resources to parents, educators, caregivers, and family support professionals. The Children’s Trust’s programs, many in partnership with key stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, help children and families thrive and break cycles of abuse and neglect.

“Nobody wants children to experience abuse or neglect. The lifelong impact of child maltreatment goes beyond the incidents. Children who experience abuse and neglect are more likely than their peers to struggle with substance abuse, homelessness, physical illness, and mental health in adulthood,”

said Jennifer Valenzuela, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust. 

“That's where the prevention work of the Children's Trust comes in. Our proven programs are informed by research and driven by data. We know that parental support programs lead to stable, safer homes for children.”

Senator Adam Gomez (D-Springfield) and Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means, (D-Boston), were honored for their commitment to supporting programs that help strengthen families and keep kids safe. 

Zena Murray, Senator Adam Gomez, and Jenn Valenzuela

In addition, Jaylynn Conway of Boston and Zena Murray of Springfield, current and former participants in the Children’s Trust Healthy Families program respectively, shared their experiences in the program. Healthy Families connects young, first-time parents with home visitors to support them in pregnancy and through the first three years of their parenting journey.

“My story – and my daughter’s story – would probably be very different without Healthy Families. I am so grateful that I found the program when I needed it and that I’ve been able to make a career out of helping families,”

said Murray who experienced abuse and neglect as a child. Murray, who lives in Springfield, became pregnant at 17 years old and enrolled in Healthy Families. Her daughter is now 22 and Murray now works for the program as a home visiting supervisor.

“Young parents face incredible odds and without programs like Healthy Families, it feels almost impossible to give our kids the lives they deserve,” 
85 pairs of shoes were on display to represent the average number of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect every day in Massachusetts.

said Conway, who was involved in the child welfare system when she learned she was pregnant and is currently enrolled in Healthy Families with her two-year-old son, Royal. 

“I love being a mom. I get to guide my son and help him become a respectable young man. I get to nurture and raise him in a way that my parents didn’t for me."

Child Abuse Prevention Month is almost over, but our mission to end child abuse never ends. We are working toward the day when Step Up for Kids has zero shoes on the staircase and we celebrate the community of supporters who helped end child abuse in Massachusetts. 

All shoes at the event were donated to our program partners to distribute to children and families.  

Support evidence-based programs today with a donation to the Children's Trust