The Children’s Trust Honors Square One with Community Partnership Award

BOSTON — The Children’s Trust, the state’s child-abuse-prevention agency, awarded Square One in Springfield with its Community Partnership Award at its annual A View from All Sides conference. The Community Partnership Award recognizes an organization that has demonstrated a commitment to the mission of the Children’s Trust and has developed strong and long-lasting relationships, understands the shared responsibility to support families and children, and has directly impacted the goals of the Children’s Trust.

“We are excited to present Square One with this year’s Community Partnership Award,” said Marissa Daley, Children’s Trust associate director of Home Visiting. “Square One began implementing the Children’s Trust’s Healthy Families Massachusetts program in 2011. Now one of the largest Healthy Families programs in the state, Square One has excelled at attracting, hiring, and retaining dedicated staff from the Springfield community.

“Square One and the Children’s Trust are also now working together on a family financial pilot project,” Daley added. “Square One’s amazing recruitment into this pilot was so successful that 130 families were enrolled months before the expected target date. The Children’s Trust is proud to present the Community Partnership Award to Square One.”

Since 1883, Square One has been offering a range of family-friendly education and support services in the Springfield area. Its focus is on providing opportunities for children and families to build a foundation for long-term success in life, academically, socially, physically, and emotionally. Programs include early education and care, by serving 500 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers each day; and family-support services that impact more than 1,500 families each year.

“It is such an honor for our staff to be recognized in such a special way,” said Dawn DiStefano, Square One president and CEO. “We are very proud of the impact that our partnership with the Children’s Trust has had on children and families throughout our region. Together, we are making a difference.”

This past June, the Children’s Trust partnered with Square One to launch the Commonwealth’s first Financial Support Program for young, first-time parents. The pilot program provides cash assistance to parents enrolled in the Children’s Trust’s Healthy Families program in Springfield. Program participants receive $500 per month for the first 15 months, then three additional monthly payments of $550, $650, and $750, respectively, for a total of 18 months. Participants who enroll in the financial-assistance program while pregnant receive a lower monthly stipend of $100. Upon the baby’s birth, parents are then eligible to receive regular monthly payments to help support the transition to parenting and the baby’s first months.

The Children’s Trust also offers optional financial skill-building courses to program participants. Because Healthy Families program participants meet with home visitors regularly, the first-of-its-kind financial-assistance program is unique in its built-in case-management component as well as access to referrals for other basic family needs.

Research from Chapin Hall demonstrates that low-income families who experience at least one material hardship are three times more likely to be involved in a neglect investigation and four times more likely to be involved in a child-abuse investigation. Provision of economic and concrete supports is associated with reduced risk for both neglect and physical abuse.

The Children’s Trust is the host of the annual, two-day A View from All Sides conference, which brings together local experts in child-abuse prevention, family support, and parent education to learn from one another and stop child abuse in Massachusetts.