Support voiced for funding kids’ programs
Union County State’s Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds joined prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs from throughout Illinois last week to meet with leaders in Springfield about investing in research proven programs for kids that prevent crime.
“Law enforcement throughout Illinois recognizes that the best way to prevent crime is to invest in youth to help steer them toward a good start in life” Edmonds said.
“These programs save taxpayer money and strengthen families and communities making us all safer.”
The group met with several legislators including House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, Sen. Dale Fowler and Sen. Paul Schimpf.
The law enforcement leaders represented over 300 law enforcement leaders who are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, an anti-crime organization that advocates for evidence-based investments in programs for kids that are proven to cut crime and violence, including:
•Redeploy Illinois, which provides intensive pre-trial and probation services for juvenile offenders and significantly reduces recidivism.
•Early Childhood Education: high-quality pre-school programs can dramatically reduce future crime by giving kids a good academic and social start.
•Teen REACH: after-school programs representing safe and educational alternatives to the streets. Thousands of at-risk youth benefit from safe spaces during the “prime time for juvenile crime.”
•Home Visiting Programs: help for the new parents of at-risk infants and toddlers, reducing child abuse and neglect, among other positive results.
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Edmonds and other law enforcement leaders also released a report on the severity of the opioid epidemic in Illinois, and evidence-based prevention efforts that can be a key component of the response to that epidemic.
The report, “Stopping the Opioid Crisis Begins at Home,” highlights the role of home visiting programs – voluntary programs in which nurses or other trained professionals coach at-risk parents during pregnancy or during the first three years of a child’s life – in reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Individuals who experienced several Adverse Childhood Experiences are significantly more likely to misuse or become addicted to opioids later in life. Prevention efforts targeted at reducing these experiences are necessary to reducing opioid abuse.
The law enforcement leaders of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids are prioritizing anti-opioid efforts because of the scope of the problem in Illinois: the state saw a 76 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths from 2013 to 2016, and the rate of babies born with opioid withdrawal – also known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – increased 53 percent from 2011 to 2016.
The law enforcement leaders of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids emphasized that evidence-based prevention programs were just part of a multi-pronged approach, which includes law enforcement efforts to put dealers behind bars, direct addicts to treatment, save lives through the use of naloxone and take action in the courts.
“There’s certainly no single solution to the opioid crisis,” Edmonds said.
“But we’re here today to say: Our approach is incomplete and insufficient if it doesn’t include appropriate attention to prevention, and the role of proven early childhood investments.”
Edmonds serves as co-chair of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, the state office of a national, non-profit, bipartisan, anti-crime organization of more than 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, leaders of law enforcement organizations, and victims of crime. The organization has more than 300 members in Illinois.