New England Child Advocates Meet with Congressional Delegations to
Discuss Child Poverty
Children's policy staff of Senate and House Congressional members met recently on Capitol Hill with MCC Director Jetta Bernier and MCC Policy Analyst Carol Kamin to discuss ways to reduce child poverty in the state. The meetings were part of a newly launched effort called theNew England Consortium, a collaboration of the key multi-issue child advocacy organizations in the six New England states that has banded together to identify and champion a series of strategic legislative initiatives to reduce the number of children and families in poverty in the region. Members of the Consortium include: Children's Alliance of New Hampshire, Connecticut Association for Human Services, Connecticut Voices for Children, Maine Children's Alliance, Massachusetts Citizens for Children, Rhode Island Kids Count, and Voices for Vermont's Children.
The Consortium, which is supported by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Voices for America's Children, pushed for a number of key actions, including extensions of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP), the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and reauthorization of the Child Nutrition bill.
Consortium members are committed to poverty reduction because research shows poverty is the most determining life circumstance for children and negatively affects their physical, educational and social well-being. Children raised in poverty are also more likely to rely on social spending later in life and less likely to contribute to the region's economy.
Some New England cities, including Springfield, Hartford and Providence, have urban poverty rates that are among the highest in the nation. Rural areas in the three northern New England states also have a disproportionate number of children living in poverty. Poverty rates in New England have persisted at constant levels for decades and increased in recent years. Projections are that by 2012, the U.S. child poverty rate will rise to 25%; in single parent families that rate could reach 45% unless purposeful action is taken now to reverse these trends.
MCC Releases Latest Report on
Child Poverty in Three Cities
After the release in 2008 of its KIDS COUNT report, "Child Poverty in Massachusetts: A Tale of Two States", MCC turned its focus to Springfield, Lawrence and New Bedford - cities with some of the highest percentages of children living in poverty in the Commonwealth. Its latest report, "Child Poverty in Massachusetts: A Tale of Three Cities", was released at a Press Conference held at New Bedford City Hall with Mayor Scott Lang and State Representatives Antonio Cabral, Stephen Canessa, and Robert Koczera. While the report contained sobering statistics about poverty in New Bedford, e.g. 36 % of the city's children live in poverty, Mayor Lang praised the report saying, "We welcome assistance from MCC to help educate our citizens on the issue of child poverty in our city, as well as to help establish programs and policies to improve all of our young persons' well-being."
Leaders from the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board, People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE), and the Early Literacy Consortium were also on hand to describe new collaborations and partnerships that have begun to work on a range of issues related to poverty reduction. (Click here to view the Press Conference video or here to read the Press Release.)
In Springfield and Lawrence, Child Poverty Reduction Task Forces have been organized, spurred by MCC's poverty reports. They are working to educate local residents and leaders about the data findings and to identify specific targets for poverty reduction in their cities. MCC has developed city-specific PowerPoint presentations on child poverty to assist them in their citizen education efforts.
Lack of Reading Proficiency by End of 3rd Grade
Jeopardizing America's Economic and National Security
Massachusetts ranks best among U.S. states in the percentage of its students who by the end of 3rd Grade are proficient in reading, according to the latest special KIDS COUNT report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, "Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters." Despite the state's highest score on the National Assessment of Educational Program (NAEP) reading test, however, neither Massachusetts nor any other state met the national proficiency standard set by that body. While 44% of Massachusetts students nearly met it, 53% of the state's students did not; nationally, 68% of students also failed to meet the standard. "These scores are disappointing for all who see school success and high school graduation as beacons in the battle against intergenerational poverty," said MCC Director Jetta Bernier.
The new national emphasis on reading success is supported by a broad coalition including, America’s Promise Alliance founded by General Colin Powell and Mission: Readiness, a coalition of over 90 U.S. military leaders. The coalition is alerting the public that not only is failure to achieve reading proficiency diminishing our children's life-long earning potential; it is placing our national economy and global competitiveness at risk.
Key Massachusetts findings from the reading report include:
Race matters with 77% of the state's African-American children and 80% of its Hispanic children scoring below proficiency compared with 44 % of its White children.
Geography matters with 69% of children in Massachusetts cities scoring below reading proficiency compared with 49% of children in our suburbs.
Early education matters with Massachusetts ranking third best in the U.S. in access to early childhood education and care. However, 29% or 66,000 of 3 to 5 year olds were not enrolled in nursery, preschool or kindergarten in 2008 compared to 39% of such children nationwide. Massachusetts has more unenrolled children than any other state in New England. Nearly 20,000 children were on income eligible waitlist for pre-K programs in 2009.
The full report and accompanying State Fact Sheet developed by Massachusetts KIDS COUNT Data Center can be found on the MCCwebsite homepage.
MCC Seeks to Hold
Sex Abusers Accountable
and To Support Justice for Victims
A private meeting with House Speaker DeLeo was held last month with sexual abuse survivors and child advocates from MCC, Bishops Accountability, and with legal advocates Carmen Durso and Mitchell Garabedian to discuss passage of House Bill 1523. The comprehensive bill sponsored by Representative Ron Mariano would help eliminate barriers that have prevented survivors of sexual abuse from obtaining true justice and sex abusers from being held accountable. ( See summary of the Bill's provisions.)
On May 26th, the Coalition to Reform Sex Abuse Laws (CORSAL) and MCC held a State House Rally to demonstrate to House Speaker DeLeo and other legislators that strong support exists for the Bill's passage. Before and after the Rally, supporters met with legislators to urge them to vote to discharge the bill from the Judiciary Committee and to bring it to the House Floor, where it is believed there are enough votes for passage.
Make your voice heard on this issue. Click on“Find your legislators” for links to addresses and telephone numbers. Ask your legislators to urge Speaker DeLeo to push to discharge the bill from the Judiciary Committee and bring the Bill to the House floor for a vote.
MCC Issues Open Letter
to Cardinal O'Malley
MCC has issued an " Open Letter to Cardinal O'Malley " urging him to fulfill his stated promise to make public the names of all Boston Archdiocese priests and staff, alive or deceased, who have had credible accusations made against them for child sexual abuse. Those who support this important action for transparency are encouraged to sign on to the letter.
The Cardinal publicly stated in March of 2009 that "in the very near future" the Archdiocese would revise its policy on "disclosing information about accused clergy and the status of cases against them." Fifteen months later, despite urgings from child advocates and abuse victims, and the fact that two dozen other Bishops across the country have released this information, the list of names associated with the Boston Archdiocese have still not been released.
Sign on to theOpen Letter and send a message to the Archdiocese that its pledge of transparency will not be fulfilled until the names, locations and other relevant information about credibly accused persons is released. MCC will post the Open Letter and supporters on its website until our request is met.
Greater Lowell Joins the
Enough Abuse Campaign
to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
Greater Lowell is the latest community to take an organized stand against child sexual abuse by becoming a site for the Enough Abuse Campaign. It joins with several other Massachusetts communities including: Gloucester, the 8-town North Quabbin region (Orange-Athol), Newton, Northampton, and several other communities in rural Western Massachusetts. The Greater Lowell Partnership Against Sexual Assault (GLPASA) and its 20 organizational members will lead and coordinate the Campaign, whose goals are to educate parents, teens, professionals and other concerned adults about child sexual abuse and engage them in actions to prevent it.
Eleven community members recently completed the two-day "Training of Trainers" on child sexual abuse prevention delivered by Jetta Bernier, staff to the Campaign and Melissa Gopnik, a trainer for the Campaign from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Among those now certified to conduct trainings for parents and professionals in Greater Lowell include police officers, domestic violence and sexual assault advocates, an Emergency Room nurse, and a childhood trauma expert.
Community presentations have already begun and more are planned over the next few months, including a general presentation about sexual abuse for Lowell General Hospital and Saints Medical Center staff; trainings for child care providers on how to understand and respond to sexual behaviors of children; and a showing and discussion of"It's Not Just Jenna," a video co-produced by MCC which is being used to educate students, parents and teachers in several Massachusetts high schools.
For information about future Campaign activities in Lowell or in other Campaign sites,
Ms. Foundation Awards MCC Grant
to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
A $40,000 grant awarded by theMs. Foundation for Women to MCC will help the Enough Abuse Campaign expand to the Cape and Islands, provide ongoing technical assistance and support to its other Campaign sites across the state, and update the Campaign's website. The Campaign was developed in 2002 through a five-year grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"This grant - the fourth consecutive award from this funder - is significant in that it represents the Ms. Foundation's belief and investment in the community organizing and citizen engagement strategy that is the hallmark of the Enough Abuse Campaign", said Jetta Bernier, chair of the MA Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Partnership, the collaboration of 20 state-level public and private agencies that has overseen the effort since it began in 2002.
The Enough Abuse Campaign believes that complex public health problems, such as child sexual abuse, require comprehensive solutions that go beyond basic educational programs. The Campaign is working to bring about social change by strengthening individual knowledge and skills about child sexual abuse and its prevention among parents, teens, professionals and other concerned citizens; fostering strong community collaborations to guide and evaluate local efforts; working to change organizational practices to better protect children; and influencing sound, evidence-based policymaking and legislation.
Strolling to Prevent
Shaken Baby Syndrome
MCC held its 4th Annual Stroll for Shaken Baby Prevention in late April that brought together parents and children, families affected by SBS, and many other supporters of child abuse prevention. Strollers met up at Christopher Columbus Park in the North End and strolled the route through Boston's historic streets.
Sponsors for the event included WCVB-TV/Channel 5 which provided on-air public service ads and extensive promotion through its website. Volunteers from Kohl's stores across the state were on hand again this year to lend their support and enthusiasm for the cause. MCC's print sponsor, the Boston Parents Paper helped promote the event through its monthly publication and distributed resource information for parents and kids. Raffle prizes and products were distributed from Isis Parenting, Uppababy, Warm as a Lamb, Au Bon Pain, Baby Banz, Baby Legs, Halo Innovations and Cloud B.Click here to learn more about our sponsors.
Check outStroll photos from our official Stroll photographer Chrissa Markos who herself became a new mom only weeks before the event. Congratulations on the arrival of Baby Nikos!
MCC Receives Grants to Prevent SBS
MCC has received a $15,000 grant from Hedge Funds Care and a $15,000 grant from the Cabot Family Charitable Trust to support the work of its SBS Prevention Center. The grants will allow MCC to complete the technical narration and production of a professional 1-hour SBS prevention training curriculum targeted to health care providers and for the distribution of the tool to hospital Emergency Departments, Pediatrics Departments, community health centers and targeted pediatric clinics in Greater Boston and throughout the state. MCC has engaged a core group of emergency medicine practitioners in its development and evaluation.
The goal is to support hospital/community health care practitioners to more quickly and accurately detect and diagnose cases of SBS so as to reduce the likelihood of re-injury and death. Since some signs and symptoms resulting from shaking can mimic those of common ailments, such as the flu or other non-life threatening illnesses, some shaken children who present with these symptoms are not properly diagnosed.
This was confirmed in a 1999 published study by Hasbro Children's Hospital pediatrician and researcher Carol Jenny of 173 children with Abusive Head Trauma/SBS. She found that 31% of children were not diagnosed accurately at the first Emergency Department or pediatric visit after the shaking; 28% of misdiagnosed infants were sent home and re-injured; as a result, 41% suffered medical complications that could have been avoided. Sadly, 10% of infants died because their injuries were not accurately diagnosed. In regard to the misdiagnosed children, she documented it took nearly 3 medical visits and an average of 7 days after the first visit to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
The grants will also allow MCC to reproduce and distribute to these providers, its SBS prevention DVD for parents and its companion teaching brochure for viewing and distribution to their patients with children under 3.
Hedge Funds Care, founded in 1998 by brokerage firm businessman Rob Davis, is an international charity supported largely by the hedge fund industry, whose sole mission is preventing and treating child abuse. To date, Hedge Funds Care has awarded over 600 grants totaling $21 million.
Hedge Funds Care Northeast was founded in 2005 by Jeff Crispen of Feingold O'Keeffe Capital and Charlie Whitlock of Merrill Lynch, Co-Chairs of the region's Committee of Hearts and its annual fall "Open Your Heart to the Children Benefit." Since then, HFC Northeast has distributed nearly $400,000 to Boston-area charities.
TheCabot Family Charitable Trust is an independent foundation established in 1942 by Godfrey L. and Thomas D. Cabot in order to sustain and encourage an active commitment to philanthropy by members of the Cabot family. The Cabot Family Charitable Trust has contributed to the work of many important nonprofit organizations in the Boston area, New England and other communities where family members live.
Pinwheels for Prevention
MCC used the occasion of its recent Stroll for Shaken Baby Prevention to formally introduce "Pinwheels for Prevention," the new symbol for child abuse and neglect prevention nationwide. Developed by Prevent Child Abuse America, of which MCC is the Massachusetts Chapter, the goal of Pinwheels for Prevention is to encourage more citizen engagement in community activities and public policies that prioritize prevention right from the start so that child abuse and neglect never occur.
Look for details in the fall e-newsletter about how you can purchase the pinwheels to promote your community's prevention activities and support the work of MCC.
SBS Training Tools, DVDs and
Now Available in Portuguese and Spanish
MCC's popular parent teaching brochure, "Infant Crying and Soothing: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Baby Safe" and its 2 DVD, narrated "SBS Prevention Training for Family-Serving Professionals and for Parents and Caregivers" are now available in Spanish and Portuguese. The tools include the latest facts about infant crying, effective infant soothing techniques, the dangers of SBS, practical steps parents and caregivers can take if they become frustrated when caring for an infant, and how they can better ensure their child’s safety when left in the care of others.
These informative and attractive tools are reaching thousands of parents of newborns and a variety of other caregivers and professionals. Thanks to the numerous parents and professionals representing diverse race, ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds who have participated in their development. And thanks to Hedge Funds Care for their support that made these translated prevention tools and their distribution possible.
Through a grant to the Central Massachusetts SBS Prevention Campaign from the MA Department of Public Health, MCC will work with the Campaign this summer to distribute these translated tools to agencies serving families and children in Worcester County.
MCC Welcomes Carol Kamin to its Team
Carol Kamin, former President and CEO of Arizona's Children's Action Alliance has joined the MCC team and will provide support to its child poverty reduction initiative at the state and federal levels. Dorchester-born and raised, Carol later moved to Arizona where she founded the Children's Action Alliance and served as its director for 20 years. She moved back to Boston in 2006 with her husband Alan, a retired judge, to be close to their family. Daniel is a doctor at Boston Children's Hospital and David works as an analyst in the White House Budget Office.
Check out Carol'sbio and read an article published about her in the Arizona Republic for an inspiring look into the life of an exemplary child advocate.
MCC Board of Directors Elects Two New Members
MCC Board President Ron White announces the recent election of two outstanding individuals to its Board of Directors. They include:
Vice President for Institutional Retirement, Philanthropy and Investments at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, one of the country's largest assets management firm. She has been in the banking and trust services area for more than 30 years. Her area of expertise is Foundation Management and assisting high net worth individuals with their philanthropic goals. Augusta is a graduate in Education and Human Services from the University of Massachusetts and has received various professional certificates from the National Trust School at Northwestern University and Cannon Trust School.
Vice-President of Co-Communications Inc., a New York-based full-service public relations and marketing firm that works with clients to create comprehensive communications campaigns. Head of the firm’s Massachusetts office, she is a seasoned professional with over ten years in the public relations and media industry field. She is the recipient of several awards for public relations campaigns that she created.
"We welcome these two outstanding individuals and look forward to their contributions as members of MCC's dedicated team for children," said Mr. White.
Look for the September edition of the Mass Kids Chronicle and the release of our
"Kids and the Candidates" questionnaire aimed at helping citizens determine
in the fall gubernatorial election, "Who's for Kids, and Who's Just Kidding?"
Massachusetts Citizens for Children
14 Beacon Street, Suite 706, Boston, MA 02108