Campaign Coordinator Margaret Nimmo Crowe is now a contributor to Pundits’ Podium, a new blog by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. One entry, about the importance of funding for Healthy Families, a home visiting program, ran in the paper on 3-22-12. You can follow Pundits’ Podium by clicking here.
There’s a lot at stake for Virginia’s vulnerable children and their families in the budget that is currently being negotiated by Virginia’s legislators. You have to dig a little deeper in the budget and beyond the issues typically covered by the media to find some of the potential cuts that put kids at risk.
Here’s one: the Governor’s budget cut funding for Healthy Families Virginia, a home visiting program with an impressive track record of reducing the rates of child abuse and neglect. Healthy Families works by providing locally-run prevention programs that enroll families with expectant or new parents to help improve birth outcomes, provide parenting education and increase the health of the child.
Only the Senate’s budget (passed by the Finance Committee but not the full Senate) restored those cuts. At this point, the decision to fund this program — and all other budget matters — rests in the hands of the House and Senate budget conferees.
With our economy still struggling, now is not the time to cut back on assistance to vulnerable families with young children. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics compared the unemployment statistics from 1990 to 2008 to national data about child maltreatment, finding that “each 1% increase in unemployment was associated with a .50 child per 1000 increase in confirmed cases of child maltreatment…AAP noted the U.S. was experiencing a major crisis because unemployment has risen from 4.5% in 2007 to the then current level of over 8.9%. Moreover, since the long-term impacts of child maltreatment include higher rates of unemployment and poverty, we can see how a vicious cycle is created and maintained.” (From The State Of Child Abuse Prevention In The Commonwealth, Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, Prepared by Joseph Galano, Ph.D., Applied Social Psychology Research Institute, College of William & Mary and Lee Huntington, Ph.D., Huntington Associates, LTD)
Let’s hope our legislators don’t forget our most vulnerable Virginians.
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