Local law enforcement officials headed to the state capitol Tuesday to lobby for a program helping at-risk youth.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson and Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II were among the officials meeting with policymakers to promote Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is an anti-crime organization with more than 4,000 members nationwide. The bipartisan organization promotes programs that have proven to be effective at deterring kids away from a life of crime.
“Getting kids prepared for success in school, and then keeping them in the classroom and on track to graduate are two of the most effective ways to keep our streets and communities safe,” said Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California State Director Brian Lee. “We’re fortunate to have so many law enforcement leaders and victim advocates as members who recognize this and work to support policies and funding for programs that help keep kids off the streets and away from crime.”
Tuesday’s campaign saw law enforcement officials meet with legislators from both sides of the aisle to increase state funding for programs scientifically proven to steer kids away from crime, such as high-quality early education and dropout prevention strategies that address truancy and chronic absence. In particular, the group expressed its support for SB 837, SB 1054 and AB 1866.
SB 837 a bill authored by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg that would make early education available to all 4-year olds by expanding the state’s transitional kindergarten program. Research shows that kids who receive high-quality early education and care are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to ever become involved in crime.
SB 1054, also authored by Steinberg, would restore the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction program and provide $50 million for grants to be used for both juveniles and adults. The MIOCR program helped fund programs such as Functional Family Therapy and Multisystemic Therapy, which some studies showed helped cut the re-arrests of juveniles by as much as 50 percent. The program lost funding several years ago.
AB 1866, authored by Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), would help identify early warning signs for dropout by tracking school attendance in CALPADS, the state’s longitudinal student data system. California in one of just four states that does not track individualized school attendance.
"Keeping kids in school at least through high school graduation improves not only the safety of our communities, but also our economic vitality as well. Studies show high school graduates earn more money and consequently are better able to purchase goods and services which helps prime our local economies," Morse said.