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Chicago Police Superintendent McCarthy: To stop violent crime, break the cycle of child abuse and broken families

New anti-crime report shows twice as many young children abused or neglected in high-crime neighborhoods; Statewide law enforcement group supports federal funding for home visiting in Englewood as proven crime reduction strategy 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, October 26
Contact: Sally Puleo, spuleo@fightcrime.org
Cell- (630) 677-8673

CHICAGO, Illinois. –   On Friday, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy called for increased access to voluntary home visiting programs for new, at-risk parents to address the root causes of violent crime

Pointing to a new report by the anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, Superintendent McCarthy said research shows home visiting programs, which provide coaching for at-risk new parents, can cut abuse and neglect by as much as half and significantly reduce future violent crime. Home visiting programs provide trained workers, such as nurses or mental health professionals, to support new, at-risk parents starting before birth through the child’s toddler years. The services work on an ongoing, voluntary basis to help parents cope with the stresses of raising an infant or toddler, support the child’s social and emotional development and ensure infant and maternal health.

According to the new report, the combined rate of child abuse and neglect involving children under age 5 in Englewood, West Englewood, and Greater Grand Crossing is more than twice as high the average rate for Chicago communities.

“There is nothing more disturbing than encountering a child who has been a victim or witnessed violent behavior. The safety of our residents, especially children, is our number one priority, but the cycle of violence cannot be reversed through law enforcement initiatives alone,” said Superintendent McCarthy.  “We embrace and appreciate the commitment of programs such as home visiting which can give young parents the skills they need to succeed. Through coordinated and focused efforts, our children can be provided with an environment in which they can thrive.”

“In Illinois, there were over 26,000 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect and 73 fatalities in 2009. That number should shock the conscience of every Illinoisan,” said Oak Park Police Chief Tanksley, Executive Committee member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois “To prevent violence, we must start by ensuring the next generation is born into strong families with skilled parents. New federal funding for home visiting gives Illinois, and particularly Englewood, that opportunity”

The report cited research showing a clear link between maltreatment and future crime. Most survivors of childhood abuse and neglect never become violent criminals, but research has shown that nearly 30 percent more of these children will become violent criminals — which equates to about 1000 new violent criminals in Illinois — than a control group without a history of abuse.  Compared to youth from similar backgrounds and neighborhoods, being abused or neglected almost doubles the odds that a child will commit a crime by age 19. Survivors are also more likely to abuse their own children, creating a cycle of violence that can span generations.

Representatives from the Southside Early Learning Network joined the Superintendent at Children’s Home and Aid in Englewood to announce new federal funds providing an additional 105 families in the troubled community the opportunity to participate in home visiting programs.

The South Side communities Englewood, West Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing were together chosen as one of six sites across the state selected to receive funds from the federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant. Illinois has received $19 million so far to expand access to home visiting in high-risk communities and conduct research on promising models. In order remain eligible for the federal funds, Illinois is not allowed to reduce state funding for home visiting in its state budget.

“By integrating the evidence-based home visitation services that are funded by the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program into a network of high quality early childhood education programs and other family supports, the Southside Early Learning Network has a chance to change the lives of women and children living in poverty,” said John Young, Community Impact Officer for Children’s Home and Aid.

A study of the Nurse-Family Partnership program model compared at-risk children whose mothers received visits with similar children whose families were not served. Children in participating families were half as likely to be abused or neglected. Children who did not participate in the program had more than twice as many criminal convictions by age 19 as those in families who received the visits. One site of the program found significantly fewer cases of childhood injury and child mortality and improved child health outcomes among families who participated.

The direct taxpayer costs alone of paying for child abuse and neglect in Illinois are huge. In fiscal year 2006, the total cost to taxpayers from federal, state and local child welfare spending reached over $1.23 billion. By reducing child abuse and neglect and later crime and other negative outcomes, evidence-based home visiting programs are highly cost-effective. Analysis from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy showed that the Nurse-Family Partnership program produced a net savings for taxpayers of almost $21,000 for each family served.

“The good news today is that we have real answers about how to prevent the tragedies that police and prosecutors encounter daily. Home visiting works,” said Tim Carpenter, State Director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, “

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Superintendent McCarthy and Chief Tanksley are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national anti-crime organization of 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, leaders of police officer organizations, and violence survivors, including over 300 in Illinois.

 

Learn more and read the report at www.fightcrime.org/il

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