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Poll of Law Enforcers Finds That Investments in Child Care Will Reduce Crime

April 28, 2002
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Poll of Law Enforcers Finds That Investments in Child Care Will Reduce Crime

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A poll released Monday showed that Maine law enforcement officials support expanded child care opportunities for working families as a way to help reduce crime.

Attorney General Steven Rowe, Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood and Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion gathered at a child care center to release the results of the poll.

Conducted last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national anti-crime organization, the poll was released as the U.S. Senate prepares to consider new child care funding as part of welfare reform legislation.

Maine's two senators, Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, play key roles on committees that will consider child care funding, its advocates said.

The poll showed that 87 percent of Maine's police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys believe "providing quality child care for preschool-age children of low- and moderate-income working parents will help children to succeed in school and ultimately prevent crime and violence."

When asked to choose from several strategies for reducing youth violence, six of 10 law enforcers surveyed said providing quality child care would have the greatest impact. That was three times more than those who said hiring more police officers would be the most effective strategy.

"We know that with the right start in life, kids are less likely to turn to crime. For most children, that right start depends on quality educational child care programs," Rowe said.

Although Maine has recently increased its funding for child care, it still depends on federal grants for 76 percent of the money to provide such care for low- and moderate-income families.

Amy Dawson, deputy director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, said welfare reform has helped children by moving millions of parents off welfare and into jobs.

"But Americans know that asking parents to go to work can't mean asking them to neglect their children," she said. "And law enforcement knows that making sure that children of working parents have access to decent child care is crucial to keep kids from becoming criminals, and keep innocent Americans from becoming crime victims."

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