Without Understanding Core Issues, Better Answers Are Hard To Come By (or why legislators need more information to do their jobs well)
It was the final question and statement from the Legislative Committee after my testimony about generational child abuse and the “real costs” of under-funding Child Protection and Children’s Mental Health at the State House yesterday that caught me off guard and made it difficult for me to fall asleep last night.
This is my best rendition of that last question and statement from the Tax Committee considering funding for the recommendations of the Governors Task Force on Child Protection that hurts me and makes me fear that better answers will remain hard to find from our state lawmakers (currently we rank next to last among the states in funding child protection for the counties);
1) the question; Do you think that anything state funding of programs can do will alter the fact of generational child abuse and damage it causes?
2) the statement; I’ve been on this committee for many years and not seen anything work.
Until legislators fully grasp the powerful information discovered and programs implemented through the medical community and ACEs, the Washburn Center for Children’s Mental health, and the hard work and meaningful results from of Art Rolnick’s Early Childhood studies while he was a director of the Federal Reserve Bank, and begin to see children’s mental health and child protection issues as the public health crisis they are, there will be inadequate understanding and support for programs, policies, and people that could fix the problem.
Until the Washburn Center for Children’s mental health is replicated many times in our community,
Until daycare workers are required to have mental health training (and paid more than food service workers) and the waiting list for subsidized daycare shrinks from 8000 families to a viable number,
Until educators and law enforcement officers are not required to be the front line of providing services to very disturbed people that they are not trained to work with,
Until adoptive and foster parents and the traumatized children they live with and love are supported in their need for adequate mental health services (beyond Prozac),
Our community will continue with unacceptable racial disparities and graduating a new generation of very troubled children every five years (as it is at five that they enter our school system)
unable to cope with their peers or in their surroundings (with a big percentage of them on psychotropic medications),
unable to learn in school – disruptive and often dangerous to themselves their teachers and classmates,
unable to graduate or become productive members of our communities (80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives),
becoming statistical probabilities for crime, courts, jails and prisons (keeping bigger and bigger parts of our cities unsafe and unhappy places to live).
It is crushing to me that policymakers seem to not know about the data, the programs, the organizations that will alter the downward spiral of our institutional approach to these chronic problems. If legislators were fully informed of what it takes to build healthy children and the safe streets and high performing schools that would blossom our community
I refuse to believe that we don’t value children enough to make them whole, give kids coping skills, provide them with what they need to succeed in school and become productive members of our community.
It’s not possible that we will live forever with the institutional failure responsible for high crime rates and prison populations and the violence and sadness that visits so many innocent people every day year after year because of it. Become a change agent for children. Get involved.
“What we do to our children, they will do to our society” (Pliny the Elder, 2500 years ago)