Law Enforcement Officials, Advocates Call For Funding For Early Childhood Programs To Reduce Abuse, Neglect

Child abuse

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Law enforcement officials, advocates, and others are calling for more investment in early childhood programs as a way to fight abuse and neglect.

A new study from the group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids shows what all such studies do: early childhood programs are beneficial. And, it said, helping low-income families through the stress and uncertainty of parenthood can help prevent child abuse and neglect.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon is among law enforcement leaders who agrees and said more funding for such programs is needed. He said if we are serious about combatting abuse and neglect, it's the best way.

"While I am a firm believer that effective and strong law enforcement can cut violent crime. The criminal justice system treats the symptoms of violent crime, not the root of the problem," he said.

Maria Medina, who’s been part of the Teen Parent Connection, said that program kept her going. She said she believes she and her husband would be divorced and she'd be lost without the help of her “coach” Rosy Barrerra.

"I know I was going through postpartum depression and I couldn't handle a lot of stuff, so Rosie was definitely there to help me push through and help me get on me feet," she said.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart acknowledges money is tight, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he said federal funds are needed to help save families. Without it, he said, there are only talking to themselves. And he said, despite tight budgets, if officials don't speak up on behalf of the children, they'll be forgotten.

"We are not naive. We are very aware of the funding issues, but if we don't speak up, if we aren't advocating...we can bank on we will be forgotten," he said.

So they are making the appeal.