Lawmakers hear from public on parenting education bill

One in 34 children in Massachusetts was confirmed as abused or neglected in fiscal 2016

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BOSTON (WWLP)—Every 15 minutes, a child is abused or neglected in Massachusetts, according to Children’s Trust, an organization that offers parenting education and support programs. Advocates with the organization hope to end child abuse by partnering with parents to help them build the skills they need to raise their kids in a safe and healthy environment .

One program is “Healthy Families,” a free and voluntary support program for young, first time Massachusetts parents, which can span from pregnancy through a child’s third birthday.

“Healthy Families” advocates are asking lawmakers to approve legislation that could help keep kids safe and healthy.

“Healthy Families is instrumental in strengthening families and building a strong foundation for lifelong health,” Healthy Families Program Director Beth Chockley said.

Worthington State Representative Stephen Kulik filed a bill that calls for the state to set standards for in-home parent coaching, similar to programs like Healthy families. Under the bill, Children’s Trust would collaborate with child serving agencies to coordinate and deliver services to families that would reduce child abuse and build positive parenting.

State Rep. Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose) testified in support of the bill before the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities public hearing Tuesday.

“What I learned, as any parent learns pretty quickly, even if you have the most supportive structures in the world, is it’s hard,” Brodeur said. “And we often joke about it, but it’s true that, you know, you take a test to get a license but any fool can can have a kid, right?”

The Committee is currently reviewing testimony on the bill before making recommendations.