News & Perspectives

News & Perspectives

Raising Awareness for Child Abuse Prevention One Step at a Time

Each of the 56 shoes represents a confirmed case of child abuse and neglect every month in Berkshire County

On Friday, May 10, 2024, Children's Trust staff, supporters, program partners and participants, and legislators gathered for the Berkshire County annual Step Up for Kids event at Pittsfield City Hall. 56 pairs of shoes were on display to represent the average number of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect every month in Berkshire County.  

Step Up for Kids recognizes the impact of the evidence-based programs and leaders in Berkshire County that provide critical resources to parents, educators, caregivers, and family support professionals. Attendees included Representatives John Barrett, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and Smitty Pignatelli, Mayor Peter Marchetti and Aleigh Gancarz, a program participant. 

From left to right: Mayor Peter Marchetti, Jennifer Valenzuela (Executive Director of the Children's Trust), Amy Hall (CEO Child Care of the Berkshires), Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Aleigh Gancarz, Rep. John Barrett, and Rep. Smitty Pignatelli

Aleigh Gancarz of Berkshire County, a former participant in Healthy Families MA, spoke about the positive impact the program has made in her life and her daughter's life. Gancarz enrolled in Healthy Families MA in 2020 after becoming a new mother.   

Gancarz stated her home visitors became a “support system” for her and her daughter and allowed her to grow as a parent helping her access support, resources, and guidance."They have gone above and beyond," she said.

"We are lucky in Berkshire County to have leaders who work hard to support programs that strengthen families,”

said Amy Hall, President and CEO of Child Care of the Berkshires. 

“I feel honored to be surrounded here today and every day at Child Care of the Berkshires, with people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children. Together we can create a community where every child feels safe, loved, and empowered to thrive.”   
The crowd at Step up for Kids Pittsfield

The Children’s Trust and Child Care of the Berkshires, along with the support and dedication of Berkshire County legislators, partner to drive systemic change thatimpacts the root causes of child abuse and neglect. By raising awareness of the challenges facing families and recognizing the critical importance of supporting families at the earliest stages, we are working toward a Commonwealth in which all children can grow up in thriving families.  

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.  

The Boston Bruins and New Balance generously donated a portion of the children’s shoes that lined Pittsfield City Hall. The shoes were donated to families enrolled in the Child Care of the Berkshire’s programs. 

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