Quad Cities Law Enforcement: One Iowa Child Abused or Neglected Every Hour, 230 Every Week
Citing enormous toll on children and child abuse-crime link, sheriff and police chief support efforts to break cycle of abuse through voluntary home visiting
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2012
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**Part of a Nationwide Campaign**
DAVENPORT, Iowa (April 12, 2012) – Area law enforcement leaders took a stand against child abuse and neglect Thursday, releasing a report on the extent of child abuse and neglect in Iowa during a news conference at the Scott County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Dennis Conard and Bettendorf Chief of Police Phil Redington released a report called “Breaking the Cycle,” showing that at least 12,000 Iowa children suffered abuse or neglect in 2010—one child every hour and 230 every week, on average. Child abuse and neglect also claimed the lives of at least 8 Iowa children in 2010.
The report emphasized the benefits of voluntary home visiting services, which help new parents cope with the stresses of raising a young child. Research shows that quality home visiting programs can cut child abuse and neglect by as much as 50 percent, significantly reduce later crime and save taxpayers money.
Sheriff Conard and Chief Redington encouraged state legislators from the Quad Cities area to strengthen family support resources including voluntary home visitation to prevent child abuse and neglect, as they consider Education and Health and Human Services Appropriations bills. They also urged members of the state’s congressional delegation to support continued federal funding for evidence-based home visiting services.
Law enforcement leaders want to prevent abuse and neglect because such maltreatment contributes to future crime and, in some cases, actually constitutes a crime. Survivors are more likely to abuse their own children, creating a cycle of violence that can span generations.
“It’s a terrible tragedy that so many children are victims of abuse, neglect and endangerment. Child abuse and neglect also leads to increased crime and violence in our communities and costs Iowa taxpayers hundreds of millions in a single year,” Sheriff Conard said. “Fortunately, high-quality, voluntary home visitation can prevent up to 50 percent of abuse and neglect, especially among at-risk children, and that’s why we’re asking our state and federal leaders to support continued investment in these services.”
A study of one program model, the Nurse-Family Partnership program, compared at-risk children whose mothers received visits with similar children whose families were not served. Children who did not participate had twice as many incidents of abuse and neglect as children in participating families. By age 15, youth whose families did not participate in the program had more than twice as many arrests. One site of the quality nurse home visitation program found significantly fewer cases of childhood injury and child mortality among families who participated.
“Because child abuse and neglect is concentrated among the youngest children, voluntary home visiting and other family supports can prevent abuse before it occurs by offering young families guidance and educational resources. The research shows that it’s possible to prevent abuse and neglect, reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations and even prevent potentially deadly cases of child maltreatment,” Chief Redington said. “If we reach out to these families through voluntary home visiting, we can protect children from abuse, make our towns and communities safer and save taxpayers a lot of money.”
The direct taxpayer costs alone of paying for child abuse and neglect in Iowa are huge. In fiscal year 2006, the total cost to taxpayers from federal, state and local child welfare spending reached over $348 million. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the lifetime economic burden from child maltreatment in the U.S. is around $124 billion.
By reducing child abuse and neglect and later crime and other negative outcomes, evidence-based home visiting is highly cost-effective. According to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, the Nurse-Family Partnership program produced a net savings of almost $21,000 for each family served. Such returns, however, can only be realized by proven, evidence-based programs, and states need to ensure public investments are directed to those services. Promising programs that lack a strong evidence base should be rigorously evaluated to confirm they deliver desired results.
In FY 2010, funding for home visiting in Iowa totaled more than $15 million, which came from a variety of sources, including state general funds, several federal funding streams and birth certificate fees. Iowa currently offers a broad array of home visiting services locally, administered by several statewide government agencies. Among the national program models serving Iowa families are Nurse-Family Partnership, Healthy Families America, Parents as Teachers, Early Head Start and other national or state-developed initiatives.
The Iowa Department of Public Health filed a successful application, qualifying the state for $6.6 million over three years in federal grants through the Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Chief Redington and Sheriff Conard thanked Iowa’s state and federal policymakers and leaders who contributed to the successful application federal funding that will provide more eligible families with access.
Sheriff Conard and Chief Redington are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national anti-crime organization of 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors, including 150 in Iowa.
Learn more about our campaign and dowload the report at www.fightcrime.org/1560campaign.
View our info-graphic on child abuse and neglect in America.