The Children’s Trust, the state’s child abuse prevention agency, announced last week that Bridges Homeward was awarded the 2022-2028 contract to oversee the Healthy Families Massachusetts program for Chelsea, East Boston, Revere, Winthrop, and Charlestown.
The Children’s Trust’s Healthy Families Massachusetts program is a home-based family support and coaching program that supports young, first-time parents and helps them create stable, nurturing environments for their children, reducing incidents of abuse and neglect. The program matches parents with trained professionals who visit families’ homes to provide support during pregnancy and the child’s first three years of life. Home visitors teach parents about proper baby care, promote nurturing and attachment, practice effective parenting skills, and ensure parents have a solid understanding of healthy child development. They also counsel parents on achieving personal goals such as going back to school or securing a job.
“Bridges Homeward is committed to our mission to prevent child abuse and neglect by making sure parents have the support and resources they need to build nurturing, stable homes for their children,” said Sarita Rogers, Deputy Director of Programs for the Children’s Trust. “The evidence is clear that in most cases, child abuse is preventable when we help families build resiliency so that they can weather stressful situations. We can’t always prevent families from facing challenging times, but we can give them the tools to help them get through it.”
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’ risky behaviors such as 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.
“Bridges Homeward is honored and excited to offer the Healthy Families program to young parents in Chelsea, East Boston, Revere, Winthrop, and Charlestown,” said Executive Director Bob Gittens. “For many years Bridges Homeward has supported children and families across Greater Boston by providing them with the support and resources that help them thrive and be successful. We are very much looking forward to working with the families in these communities, and our partners, to help them reach their full potential and build strong communities.”
The Children’s Trust develops programs and influences public policies by building Protective Factors that support the overall well-being of children and their families. Developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the Protective Factors framework is a research-driven approach that identifies five key conditions which must be in place to support the optimal well-being of children and families. Protective Factors serve as buffers that help families cope, achieve, and thrive, even during times of stress. The five Protective Factors are: parental resilience, knowledge of parenting and child development, social connections, concrete support in times of need, and social and emotional development of children.
Healthy Families Massachusetts is currently accepting new first-time parents ages 23 years old and under. Parents can enroll in the program beginning in pregnancy. To learn more, visit http://healthyfamiliesma.org/.