Helping kids stay on right track

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 26 2013 | 12:01 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:56 am in
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The Gazette Editorial Board

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For more than two decades, the non-profit Community Corrections Improvement Association has worked to make our neighborhoods safer by proactively addressing some of the root causes of crime in Eastern Iowa.

The group’s Children of Promise programs are great examples of how hard CCIA works “upstream” to support children and break dysfunctional patterns that can lead to trouble later on.

Their programs, funded by a combination of federal, state and local public and private sources, are built on the idea that every child needs and deserves to have positive, trustworthy adults in their lives and to feel a part of their community.

By boosting the protective factors that can offset negative influences, Children of Promise programs help kids value their potential, make healthy choices and refrain from engaging in risky or illegal behaviors.

The Foster Grandparents program brings caring, attentive older adults to work one-on-one with young children at elementary schools, Head Start/Early Head Start Centers and child development centers.

Each year, the program gives hundreds of young at-risk kids a firmer foundation for school success by providing extra support with literacy and social skills. In addition, foster grandparents are a stable, positive presence in the children’s lives.

Children of Promise’s One on One Mentoring program matches a youth with a caring, adult mentor who serves as a role model and trusted friend outside of school.

The Youth Leadership Program helps select at-risk middle and high school aged youths find their own voices and develop their leadership potential.

Children of Promise takes as a motto a quote from famed American abolitionist and thinker Frederick Douglass: “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.” That sensible approach too easily can be lost when much of our law enforcement and corrections efforts are necessarily reactive.

By investing public and private money into early interventions such as Children of Promise, we can reduce the negative impact of crime “downstream.” The state’s support has been largely sporadic. Legislators should make a steady commitment.

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