John Marty's Agenda for Minnesota's Future: Children and Families
All politicians say they support children and strong families.
However, the proof of their commitment comes in the budget
process when critical programs are underfunded because, they say, "we
cannot afford them." John Marty knows that even in these times of
tight government budgets there are certain investments we can't afford
not to make -- investments that save far more in taxes then they cost.
Of course, government programs are only part of the solution. We must
strengthen our communities, families, churches and civic groups as
well. As a state we must begin making wise investments in the health
and well-being of our children and families now in order to ensure a
bright future for all Minnesotans.
No matter how worn the saying, an ounce of prevention really is worth
a pound of cure. Most first grade teachers are able to identify which
students are likely to get into trouble and yet many of even these
children still slip through the cracks. Resources are too scarce,
programs are too crowded and time is too limited. It is appalling that
as a state we are already giving up on six-year-olds. It is not cheap
to meet their needs but it is far more expensive to ignore them. John
Marty is the only candidate who has proposed to fully fund key
cost-saving programs for children and families, and he is the only
candidate who has proposed a fair way to raise the necessary revenue
through additional taxes on the wealthiest four percent of
- 97% cumulative Childrens Defense Fund voting record.
- Author of Youth Works, a program giving teenagers job training
or college funds in return for youth community service.
- The only member of the legislature who has authored legislation
adequately funding all the following cost-saving programs: the
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program, Head Start,
Crisis Nurseries and the sliding fee child care program.
John Marty's Agenda for Children and Families
The cornerstone of John Marty's children and families agenda will be
his Children and Families Budget which he introduced as Senator in
Politicians are sometimes too eager to jump on the most current
bandwagon -- from housing, to juvenile crime, to early childhood
education. While these are all important individually, they do not
work independently of each other. We cannot address education without
addressing the problems of abusive families, and we cannot address
domestic and child abuse without addressing problems with self esteem,
mental health and drug and alcohol addiction, and the lack of decent
jobs and educational opportunities. Government spending has
skyrocketed because the state has failed to prevent the growth in
John's Children and Families Budget represents a comprehensive
approach to strengthening families and raising healthy children. It
proposes to address the problems of families and children in five key
areas: education, health care and nutrition, crisis services, housing,
and jobs and economic opportunity. These investments will make
Minnesota a healthier state, help build a stronger economy and,
ultimately save tax money.
Some of these initiatives such as health care and alcohol and drug
treatment, will have an almost immediate payback; others such as Head
Start and parenting education may take longer. But what we save in
human and economic costs will far exceed the initial investment.
- Fully fund Head Start. It is far cheaper to fund the Head Start
program than to pay many times that amount down the road for
prison cells. Politicians of all political stripes agree Head
Start saves money. Its parental involvement, health, nutritional
and educational resources are invaluable in meeting the needs of
low income children and families. Even Arne Carlson accepts this
point. Yet in Minnesota only about one-third of all children
eligible for Head Start can be enrolled.
- Provide home visitation programs to stop the cycle of abuse.
Most adults who perpetrate violent crime were abused as
children. Programs such as the Early Childhood and Family
Education home visitation program reach at-risk families and
stop the cycle of abuse by providing early childhood parent
education and self-help programs, crisis nurseries, and family
support and preservation services.
- Fund truancy prevention programs throughout the state. There is
a strong correlation between early truancy problems and later
criminal activity. Promoting truancy prevention programs
throughout the state would help students complete high school
and stay out of trouble. Crisis Services
- Fully fund crisis nursery and respite care programs. These
programs help prevent child abuse by providing temporary child
care and safe housing for children whose parents are emotionally
and temporarily unable to care for them.
- Provide basic services for battered women and their children in
every county in Minnesota. Basic services include a 24 hour
crisis line, safe housing and other support counseling services.
In many parts of Minnesota, victims of domestic abuse have
limited or no access to these services. It is unacceptable for
abuse victims to be forced to return to their abusers because no
other housing or economic alternatives exist.
Health Care and Nutrition
- Fully fund the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition
program. WIC provides nutritional assessments and nutritious
foods for low-income pregnant and nursing women and young
children. Across the political spectrum everyone agrees that WIC
saves far more money than it costs -- three dollars are saved in
health care and special education costs for every dollar spent.
- Address the mental health and chemical dependency problems of
young people. A startlingly high number of juvenile offenders
have mental health or chemical dependency problems. By treating
these problems for all juveniles in trouble with the law we can
dramatically reduce crime. A pilot program in California
demonstrated a more than 50% reduction in repeat offenses for
serious juvenile offenders whose mental health and chemical
dependency problems were treated.
- Provide health care for all children and pregnant women in
Minnesota. The new MinnesotaCare health plan is not available or
affordable for tens of thousands of Minnesota children.
Universal health coverage is mandatory. Meanwhile, we must
ensure that all pregnant women and children receive adequate
health care, including timely immunizations that lessen the
suffering and expense of preventable diseases.
- Provide housing allowances for AFDC families. A stable and safe
home is one of the best ways to strengthen families and provide
a secure environment for children. Many low-income families end
up bouncing from apartment to apartment because they cannot
afford the rent. Children suffer from adjusting to several
different school moves in a year, diminishing their opportunity
to do well in school.
- Provide temporary rental and mortgage assistance to help
families stay in their homes. Often a small amount of financial
assistance can keep a family in their home and save the much
greater cost of taking care of a homeless family later.
Increased funding for the Emergency Mortgage and Rental
Assistance program would provide counseling services, grants and
loans for a period up to six months to help families stay in
their homes or apartments when they have a temporary disruption
of income (such as a layoff, medical problem or divorce).
Jobs & Economic Opportunity
- Reinstate the MEED program and fully fund the STRIDE program.
These programs have been successful in putting thousands of
people to work. The STRIDE program helps welfare recipients find
employment and achieve self-sufficiency, while the MEED program
encourages creation of job training programs and permanent jobs
for unemployed people with no other job prospects.
- Fully fund the sliding fee child care program. Affordable child
care is one of the biggest hurdles for a single parent on
welfare returning to work. Over 5,000 Minnesota families are in
need of child care subsidies in order to move off of welfare
into jobs, school or job training, and up to a two-year wait for
childcare is common. If these obstacles are removed, Minnesota
will reduce welfare costs and the "home alone" problem, where
thousands of young children are unsupervised for long periods of
time while their parents are at work.
Prepared by Minnesotans for Marty, 2161 University Avenue, St. Paul, MN
55114 Telephone/Fax: (612)644-5775/644-4131
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