From Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office
SEATTLE -- As millions of Americans recognized National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, one hundred and sixty law enforcement leaders from across Washington, including five from Cowlitz County, joined a nationwide letter calling on Congress to support proven child abuse prevention strategies.
At least 6,500 Washington children suffered abuse or neglect in 2010—nearly 18 children every day and 125 every week, on average. Child abuse and neglect also claimed the lives of at least 1,560 children nationwide in 2010, including 12 Washington children. More than 1,560 law enforcement leaders and survivors—one for every child who lost their life to abuse or neglect—have signed the letter urging Congress to protect and expand funding for evidence-based home visiting services (see a list of all Washington law enforcement leaders who signed the letter).
Cowlitz County law enforcement leaders who signed the letter are Sheriff Mark Nelson, Prosecuting Attorney Sue Baur, Kelso Chief Andrew Hamilton, Castle Rock Chief Bob Heuer and Longview Chief Jim Duscha.
The letter emphasized the benefits of voluntary home visiting services, which help new parents cope with the stresses of raising a young child. Research shows quality, voluntary home visiting programs can cut child abuse and neglect by up to 50 percent, significantly reduce later crime and save taxpayers money. They say that evidence-based home visiting can save as much as $21,000 for each family served by reducing abuse, neglect, juvenile crime and other negative outcomes. Washington recently received a multi-year, $25 million dollar federal grant to expand home visiting services statewide. And the 2012 supplemental budget signed by Governor Gregoire includes nearly $1 million dollars per year in state general funds for home visiting.
The signatories, members of the anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, pointed to hundreds of thousands of cases of abuse or neglect that occur every year and said that the scope of the problem should “shock the conscience of every American.”
“From a fiscal, moral and public safety perspective, we have an obligation to invest in home visiting and protect children from the harm caused by abuse and neglect,” the leaders agreed.