Preventing Crime Through Voluntary Home Visiting
Pennsylvania’s home visiting programs prevent crime by reducing child abuse and neglect
In 2015, 4,200 children in Pennsylvania experienced abuse or neglect, most often by a parent or guardian. Sadly, the number of child abuse and neglect cases has been rising in recent years. This is concerning given that children who are abused or neglected are twice as likely to become involved in crime later in life.
The good news is that guidance and support provided by trusted advisors to parents during pregnancy through the first few years of a child’s life can help prevent child abuse and neglect. Evidence-based home-visiting programs that work with at-risk parents during the first years of child’s life have been shown to cut child abuse and neglect and future crime by 50 percent or more.
Less than 10% of Pennsylvania’s zero-to-three year olds in poverty have access to a home visiting program.
Home-visiting programs have been shown to improve children’s health and development and families’ economic self-sufficiency. Increasing Pennsylvania’s home visiting program is one of the best steps to strengthen public safety and prevent crime. Currently, less than 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s zero-to-three year olds in poverty have access to a home visiting program.
This report builds the case that investing in early childhood is less costly than spending money in the state prison system, which costs Pennsylvania roughly $2.2 billion per year. The human and fiscal costs of crime are unsustainable, so the best route is to address the root of the problem by preventing crime in the first place. Doing so will dramatically reduce the number of children who are abused and neglected in our state, and ultimately prevent involvement in the criminal justice system.