Our Mission

Massachusetts Citizens for Children (MassKids) is the oldest state-based child advocacy organization in the country. Our mission is to improve the lives of the state's most vulnerable children and youth through advocacy by concerned citizens. Since the mid-70s, it has been committed to preventing the abuse and neglect of our state's children.

Our History

MassKids was founded in 1959 by pediatrician Martha May Eliot, MD, who served as Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau and held influential positions in both the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). With active support from Governor Foster Furculo, they established the organization as a permanent, independent citizens’ voice for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable children.

Since its formation in, MassKids has continued to tackle the complex and sometimes controversial issues facing vulnerable children.

  • In the 60s, MassKids worked successfully to remove mentally ill children from adult psychiatric wards.
  • In the 70’s our data alerted the state to the growing problem of drug-addicted newborns, and to the links between teen suicides and sexual identify issues.
  • In the 80’s we worked to protect homeless and runaway youth from HIV, filed a class action against the state for its inadequate child protection system, and conducted the first media campaign in the country on child sexual abuse prevention.
  • In the 90’s MassKids was the first group in Massachusetts to work to prevent infant deaths and disabilities from Shaken Baby Syndrome, and to successfully challenge the withholding of necessary medical care for seriously ill children by their faith-healing parents.
  • Since 2002 our work to address child sexual abuse has resulted in the engagement of numerous communities and thousands of citizens across the state through our Enough Abuse Campaign which the CDC has called “a trailblazing effort.” 

Throughout its near 60-year history, our organization’s work has been grounded in the belief that all Massachusetts children have the inherent right -

  • To be safe from abuse, neglect, and violence;
  • To be economically secure and free from poverty;
  • To receive quality medical and preventive care;
  • To learn in quality child care and school settings; and
  • To live in caring families and healthy communities.

Since 1986 MassKids has served as the Massachusetts Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. MassKids currently works to prevent child abuse through the Enough Abuse Campaign - a multi-state initiative working to educate and mobilize parents, professionals and communities to prevent child sexual abuse; the Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Center that is working to reduce infant deaths and disabilities from Abusive Head Trauma/SBS; and its active participation on various coalitions, including the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, and the National Task Force on Educator Sexual Misconduct.

Click here for highlights of MassKids' work and accomplishments for children.