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Nearly 150 police chiefs, state’s attorneys, sheriffs, leaders of police officer organizations and crime survivors signed a letter to Governor Pat Quinn and the leaders of the General Assembly urging them to protect funding for children’s programs in the 2013 state budget.
“Investing in kids pays off. Communities have less crime, kids get better outcomes in life, and taxpayers save money. There are some programs that are simply too valuable to cut any more than they already have been,” said Channahon Police Chief Joe Pena.
The law enforcement leaders called for the restoration of last year’s cut to the state’s preschool program, and funding for after-school programs and home visiting programs that prevent child abuse to be maintained at current levels. These programs have been cut significantly over the last 3 years, and law enforcement is concerned about the fiscal and public safety consequences.
“We want the General Assembly and the Governor to know going in to the budget debate that law enforcement sees these programs as essential tools in the fight against crime,” said Ogle County State’s Attorney Ben Roe. “We all must share the burden of the state’s tight budget, but if we’re not strategic and thoughtful about what we’re cutting and by how much, we are jeopardizing the safety of our communities.”
“Cleaning up after crime is extremely expensive. Protecting programs that reduce the chance that a child will ever become involved in crime means taxpayers save a significant amount of money- and we save lives,” said Morgan County Sheriff Randy Duvendack.
Illinois’ preschool program, Preschool for All, has been cut by 15 percent since 2009, and tens of thousands of 3- and 4-year olds have lost their spots in preschool. Research shows quality preschool, like the state’s Preschool for All program, reduces future crime and saves money.
One long-term study of the publicly funded Chicago Child-Parent Centers found that kids left out of the program were 27 percent more likely to have been arrested by age 28 than those who participated. The Child-Parent Centers saved $10 in reduced crime and other costs for every $1 spent.
The law enforcement leaders requested that funding for child abuse prevention programs, known as home visiting, be maintained. Any cuts to funding for home visiting programs in the Department of Human Services budget could cause Illinois to lose a federal grant that requires states to not go below FY 2010 funding levels for these programs.