Oregon law enforcement leaders have asked Rep. Darlene Hooley, a key member of the House Budget Committee, to push for more money in the federal budget for Head Start and other educational child care programs to help cut crime.
Research has shown that Head Start and quality childcare programs for low-income working families help prepare children for school, help them lead productive lives and prevent them from committing crimes. One study of Child-Parent Centers in Chicago showed that at-risk kids not participating in the program were 70 percent more likely to have been arrested for a violent crime by age 18, when compared with similar kids who were enrolled in the high quality early education program.
Sheriff Raul Ramirez of Marion County serves as president of the Oregon State Sheriff's Association. He is one of 137 members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Oregon, a bipartisan, anti-crime organization.
"When government fails to support proven crime prevention programs like Head Start and child care, it forces law enforcement to fight crime with one hand tied behind our backs," Ramirez said.
Hooley, who was a teacher before entering politics, was recently appointed to the Budget Committee, which will recommend to the full House the size of fiscal year 2008's budget and how much money will go toward different budget areas. In Oregon, the Head Start pre-kindergarten program is state and federally funded. Last year, more than 6,400 eligible Oregon children were not able to participate in Head Start because of inadequate funding. Nationally, only one in seven eligible children receives childcare assistance.
Services for children through Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant — a federal program that helps low-income working parents afford childcare and after-school programs for their children — have been cut since 2002.
Ramirez urged Hooley to ask for an additional $910 million in Head Start funding and $720 million more for CCDBG funding. This money would restore the programs' funding of services to their 2002 levels. President Bush will unveil his budget proposal Feb. 5 and Congress will propose its budget plan later that month.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is a nonprofit anti-crime organization based in Washington, D.C. with more than 3,000 law enforcement members.