Police Chief: YES on Prop 1, Best Starts for Kids, Investment in Safer, Stronger Communities

Dear Citizens,

There is only one initiative on this year’s ballot that is bringing together people from across the political spectrum and that’s King County Proposition 1, know as Best Starts for Kids.  Investing in kids and investing in our community’s future is not an ideological issue – it is just the smart thing to do.

Right now, King County is spending an exorbitant amount of its General Fund budget on the criminal justice system – jails, police and courts.  This system, while necessary, is very expensive and growing at an unsustainable pace. For most small cities, the majority of the municipal budget is committed to public safety in the form of high quality law enforcement and fire protection and emergency medial responses.

It’s time we work together as a community to make a difference in the lives of our children and youth so they never enter the criminal justice system.

Best Starts for Kids  will put resources into programs proven to prevent or mitigate problems that result in negative and costly outcomes and instead put kids on a positive life path.

Investing early provides the greatest opportunity to help children and youth reach their full potential. And in doing so we will have the best chance to prevent child abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and incarceration that not only tear at the fabric of society, but require millions of dollars to address.

One example of an early investment that pays big dividends is the Nurse-Family Partnership. This voluntary home visiting program connects first-time, low-income pregnant women with specially trained public health nurses who provide education, counseling and coaching during pregnancy until the child’s second birthday.

The nurses help young mothers learn about the early physical and emotional development of their child. They also provide them with tools to manage stress and anxiety, resources for ensuring the child’s safety and techniques to appropriately guide a toddler away from unacceptable behavior.

Multiple long-term studies of the Nurse-Family Partnership have shown that this program can cut child abuse and neglect in half and significantly reduce the likelihood that the mothers and children will commit crimes later in life.

For only a dollar a week, the average residential property owner in King County will be investing in prevention programs that provide a significant return to taxpayers in lower criminal justice and social welfare costs.  The Washington State Institute for Public Policy has calculated the net benefit from the Nurse-Family Partnership to be approximately $19,000 per family.

While half of the Best Starts for Kids funds will go to programs targeting children to age five, another 35 percent will be directed toward strategies focused on children and youth during their school age years. These efforts will include screening and early intervention to prevent or address mental health, teen depression, substance use and other issues that can lead to criminal activity and violent behavior.  Resources will be provided to parents, teachers and community leaders to help them recognize the signs and respond effectively.

The science and research indicate that the brain continues to develop during this time and prevention efforts addressed at key development stages or transition points in a young person’s life can help sustain gains made earlier in life.

The science and research are very clear. Funding dedicated to Best Starts for Kids initiatives results in higher levels of high school graduation and early life success. This in turn will dramatically assist in the reduction and prevention of crime and reduced population in our prison and jail systems.

We urge voters in Snoqualmie and throughout King County to vote YES on Proposition 1. It’s an investment in safer and stronger communities now and in the future.

Respectfully,

Steven D. McCulley

Chief of Police

 

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