Local Pastors Call on Legislators to Restore Funds for Healthy Start Programs
Representing pastors and ministry leaders across Tennessee, Nashville area Christian leaders will join state legislators in releasing a report calling on Tennessee policymakers to restore funding for proven strategies that can reduce child abuse and neglect. The press conference will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday March 20 in Room LP-30, Legislative Plaza, at the State Capitol in Nashville.
According to the new report, prepared by the Christian nonprofit Shepherding the Next Generation, nearly 9,000 Tennessee children were abused or neglected in 2010, and 38 died as a result. This is roughly equivalent to a child suffering abuse or neglect every hour of every day, on average, in the state.
In releasing the report, the pastors will urge legislators to support evidence-based voluntary home visiting programs, which have proven to be highly successful in reducing child abuse and neglect and strengthening families. Voluntary home visiting programs offer advice and support to pregnant mothers and new parents on how to raise a healthy child during the first years of life. These programs can help solve problems that inevitably develop in caring for a new child.
The pastors will also release an open letter from 27 pastors and ministry leaders across Tennessee calling on legislators to restore funding for Healthy Start, which provides voluntary parent coaching to help new parents cope with the challenges of raising a child. The pastors will warn that if policymakers do not restore funding for Healthy Start, more Tennessee children and families will be at risk of child abuse and neglect. A Healthy Start provider and mother involved in this high quality home visiting program will discuss the merits of the program.