Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Washington Programs
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Washington incorporates the "unexpected voices" of law enforcement leaders into public policy debates. Our members have extraordinary access to, and credibility with, policy-makers. Through our members, we generate media coverage on the unique "fight crime by investing in kids" message. This access, credibility, and newsworthiness, combined with the best available research on the developmental and crime-prevention benefits of early learning, give our members the standing to deliver this powerful message to policy-makers, especially moderates and conservatives who are sometimes the most difficult for traditional child advocates to reach.
Program #1: Convincing the public and opinion leaders that intensive home visiting for at-risk mothers is a solid investment in improving parenting skills and reducing child abuse and neglect. All new parents have hopes and dreams for their children and want to be the best parents they can be. Unfortunately, there are many parents who do not have the knowledge, experience and family support they need to understand the developmental needs of their infants and young children. This lack of understanding too often leads to inappropriate discipline, neglect or abuse. Research tells us that abused and neglected children often grow up to become perpetrators of abuse and are twice as likely to be arrested for a crime as juveniles when compared to those who grow up free of abuse. Research also has identified specific home visiting programs proven to reduce child abuse and neglect, improve children's health and school success and reduce the likelihood that they will commit crimes as juveniles and adults. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members use their credibility, experience and the research to make a powerful case for investing in proven prevention programs.
Program #2: Convincing the public and opinion leaders that high-quality early learning for at-risk children is a solid investment in school success and lower crime. High-quality early learning programs help children learn to get along with others and begin school ready to succeed. Research shows that high-quality programs for at-risk kids later result in lower drug use, increased high school graduation and college attendance rates, fewer families receiving welfare, and lower crime. The strategies employed by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members to convince policy-makers and the public that high-quality early learning is a good investment are the same as for home visiting: meetings with legislators and editorial boards, testimony at hearings, Letters to the Editor and Op Eds, letters to the Governor and legislators, and at press conferences.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
We are very proud of the role we have played in increasing state and federal support for intensive home visiting. In 2007, for the first time in State history, the legislature allocated $3.5M for home visiting programs proven to reduce child abuse and neglect, improve children's health and help more at-risk youngsters arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed. While we do not take complete credit for this historic investment, many legislators and children's advocates credit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members with convincing key leaders in the House and Senate to support this item in the 2007-09 State budget. And when the Governor, faced with a $9B deficit in 2009, proposed elimination of this funding, our members rolled up their sleeves and once again went to work in Olympia. They released a report on the dramatic rise in child abuse "Sounding the Alarm in a Weak Economy: Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect by Strengthening Families" met with legislators, sent Op Eds and Letters to the Editor and spoke at hearings. As a result, the legislature, faced with the biggest deficit in State history, restored 70% of the funding for home visiting programs in the 2009-11 budget.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Washington's most critical need is for general operating support. The Washington State office is expected to generate enough financial support to cover the annual operating expenses ($240,000 in 2010). Our fundraising goals for 2010 include $20,000 from individual donors.