The steps in front of City Hall on Friday were filled with 58 little pair of shoes, each one representing a child being abused in Berkshire County each month. reports the display was part of the 13th annual "Step Up For Kids," a presentation to rally support for efforts to combat child abuse. The annual event is put on each year by the Children's Trust to recognize child abuse prevention month in April.
Suzin Bartley, executive director of the statewide Children's Trust, believes that child abuse can be prevented. The organization funds an array of programs such as parenting classes and care centers that help to give parents the tools to become positive influences in their children's lives.
Holmes said she doesn't expect all fathers to be like the "TV dad" but rather just be "a real dad" to positively influence the lives of children.
"Parents have the instinct to be protectors. Let's make sure they can be exactly that," Holmes said.
Cassandra Gauthier highlighted a number of the parenting programs she had utilized locally and praised The Family Center of Northern Berkshire County saying it helped her in numerous ways.
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said her goal is to put the Department of Children and Families out of business. And she said the state's funding for is "upside down and backward" because the most of the money allocated to the department is spent on children who have already been removed from households instead of going toward helping build strong families.
Bartley said the investment does pay off and she is hoping the state will increase its support for the organization.
State Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. John Barrett III vowed to back efforts to increase funding in the state's budget.
Hinds called the shoes "deeply saddening" but at the same time seeing the way organizations are teaming up to lower the rates of child abuse is uplifting.
Despite the sad display of shoes, Child Care of the Berkshires CEO Anne Nemetz-Carlson shared a converse story. She said through the Children's Trust the Family Center was able to get 470 new shoes to give to local children. She said things like that is what Child Care of the Berkshires is able to do help parents.

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