Why do children’s issues matter so much to me?
As a 4-year-old refugee from Cuba, arriving in Miami early in 1961 with a large family, no money, and little more than our suitcases and no money, I had more than a taste of poverty. Since then, I haven’t forgotten what so many others suffer daily. Timely help means everything. Kids can’t get a “do over” on their critical growing and learning years.
Children and teenagers are without a doubt any nation’s greatest resource. When enabled, they have a jaw-dropping ability to learn, achieve and excel. However, when traumatized by abuse, neglect, homelessness, food insecurity, hapless parenting and addictions, the tragic outcomes can be no less striking. The personal toll and social cost if left unaddressed can be immense. We can default to perpetuating generational dysfunction that wastes lives and drains society. Or we can put children first!
Timely intervention, especially with the youngest and most vulnerable children is crucial to their emotional development and later success in school and life. Locally-managed non-profit social service agencies play a key role. These “upstream” organizations are remarkably cost-effective. They are funded only in part from public funds, yet they dramatically reduce state expenditures in child welfare, foster care, and criminal justice. Consider these figures compiled by the Family Nurturing Center, a relief nursery, which works to break the cycle of abuse and promote self-sufficiency in young families:
Youth incarceration in Oregon costs taxpayers $110,000 per child per year.
Foster care costs $35,000 per child per year.
Relief nursery service for children newborns through age five, costs $7,500 per year.
99 percent of Family Nurturing Center families have no further contact with the child welfare system.
Medford’s Maslow Project works to stabilize homeless youth and families through basic support, emergency shelter and case management.
Nationally, 25 percent of homeless teenagers graduate.
Students who don’t graduate are seven times more likely to be homeless as adults.
Last year, 98 percent of Maslow case-managed high school seniors (62 out of 63 individuals) graduated!
These “upstream” organizations, and others like Medford’s Kids Unlimited and Kids Unlimited Academy, which works to empower under-served youth with a charter school, summer and afterschool programs, and low-cost sports participation, continue to do an enormous amount of work to prevent countless “downstream” disasters for our town.
As your Representative, I will be committed to:
Partnering closely with community-based non-profits, so that even in the face of anticipated Covid-19 cutbacks, we hang on to these urgently needed partners.
Getting to the truth of managerial dysfunction at Children’s Services in Medford. Why have we had four managers in the past four years? Why must doctors call Portland to report abuse? A recent internal audit blamed the new computer system. I believe problems run deeper.
The Legislature erred recklessly when with little notice they opted to follow California into permanent Daylight Savings Time. Darker winter mornings will endanger kids all over Oregon, putting them by the roadside, waiting for the school bus, up to full two hours before winter sunrise! On Oct. 30, 2017, Meadow Boyd, 13, was struck and killed by a truck mirror as she waited for the school bus on East Evans Creek Road, Rogue River. A week later, we went to Standard Time and mornings were brighter. Los Angeles lies nearly as far east as Idaho. Being 700 miles south, its seasonal day/night swings also are much less pronounced. What works for L.A. golfers hitting the links late on midsummer evening makes no sense at all for Oregon school kids on winter mornings!
Let’s keep Oregon’s children safe and secure!