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
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
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
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
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
"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."