When a parent is able to afford rent, that’s prevention. When a parent is able to access substance abuse treatment in their area, that’s prevention. When a receptionist at a family resource center greets a young mom with a welcoming smile, that’s prevention. When a dad drops his baby off at a safe, quality child care center so he can go to work, that’s prevention.
Having an attitude of prevention – one that is compassionate, supportive and non-judgmental towards parents and families – is free and can be exhibited by anyone. But the supports and services that create a robust prevention system require financial investment.
Oftentimes, it’s the cost of providing these resources – including expanding economic supports like expanding the Child Tax Credit, making quality child care financially accessible for families, guaranteeing paid family leave, and other benefits included in the Build Back Better Act, that is used as the argument against investing in prevention. But the discussion shouldn’t be about whether or not we should offer families resources. The discussion should be about how much we are willing to tolerate child abuse and neglect and pay for its consequences.
It’s not about if our state and our country want to spend money on children and families. We’re already paying for the costs of child abuse and neglect. In Arizona, we spend more than a billion dollars on our child protection system, which reacts after harm has occurred.
We can only decide how we spend our resources. The fundamental question is this: Do we wait for children to be harmed before we act to protect them, or do we prevent the harm from happening?
Our inaction- our refusal to invest in what we know prevents child adversity – is an active choice. When we choose not to support investments in the strength of families – such as quality affordable child care, paid family leave, and economic supports for families – we are choosing to tolerate the consequences of family overwhelm. We are choosing to tolerate child adversity.
We are paying one way or the other. We have always had the choice. Choosing to be reactive isn’t working. It’s time to choose to focus on prevention.
Your voice matters. Help our Senators understand that you want investments in prevention by sending them a message urging them to pass Build Back Better here. The message is pre-written and it takes less than a minute to send. Use your influence!