News & Perspectives

News & Perspectives

Stepping Up to End Child Abuse

Senator Michael J Rodrigues accepts a honor for his long standing support of the Children's Trust

On Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 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. 70 pairs of shoes were on display to represent the average number of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect every day in Massachusetts. This year we recognized Massachusetts State Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, and Representative Paul Donato (D-Medford). 

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. These Children’s Trust-supported programs partner with key stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, help children and families thrive, and break cycles of abuse and neglect. 

“Step up for Kids helps us spotlight and advocate for child abuse prevention work happening across the state. It truly takes all of us to create the 'villages' families need

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

"Today, we honor everyone in those villages, especially home visitors for their instrumental roles in addressing the root causes of child abuse and neglect. We are honored to recognize them, stand with them, and fight for them to get what they need to help families thrive."

Senator Rodrigues and Representative Donato were honored for their longstanding support for the Children’s Trust’s programs, including Healthy Families Massachusetts, a home-visiting program that connects young, first-time parents with home visitors from pregnancy through the first 3 years of their parenting journey. The Massachusetts Legislature has also been a key partner in the Children’s Trust’s child sexual abuse prevention work, providing critical funding to launch and implement a host of tools and trainings to help youth-serving agencies like schools, after-school programs, and early education centers, keep the children in their care safe from child sexual abuse.  

Representative Paul Donato receives his award

In addition, Madison Scott of New Bedford, a former participant in the Children’s Trust Healthy Families MA program, spoke about the program's positive impact on her and her son’s lives. Scott enrolled in Healthy Families MA six months after her son, Ross, was born.  

“Having someone I could trust checking in on me once a week felt like such a relief and an incredible gift,Without funding for programs like this, people and their children will fall through the cracks and they will have to go through this alone. Home visits play a vital role for families. It is the home visitors and the staff that make Healthy Families so special,”

said Scott who experienced abuse and neglect as a child and did not have family to support her when she became a parent. Scott credits Healthy Families MA for filling that role in her life. Ross is now six years old.    

“They have made a true difference in my and my son’s life.” 
70 pairs of shoes were on display to represent the average number of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect every day in Massachusetts.

A study from Tufts University found that participating in Healthy Families Massachusetts led to a 36% decrease in parenting stress, a risk factor for child abuse and neglect. The longitudinal Tufts evaluation also found that involvement in the program led to lowering parents’ drug and alcohol abuse, reducing homelessness and dependence on cash assistance, and increasing parents’ employment and educational attainment which helps the economic stability of the family. 

Child Abuse Prevention Month is over, but our work to end child abuse never ends. We are working toward the day when Step Up for Kids has no shoes on the staircase, where every child in Massachusetts grows up in a safe and healthy environment.  

The Boston Bruins and New Balance generously donated the children’s shoes that lined the Grand Staircase. The shoes were donated to families enrolled in the Children’s Trust’s programs after the event.

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