To the Editor:
I am writing to express my serious concern over the state budget cuts to Kids in Crisis. The state of Connecticut, due to budget constraints, has decided to cancel its contract with Kids in Crisis. This means that Greenwich and Southwestern Connecticut will no longer have state-supported emergency beds for children in need of temporary shelter when home is not safe. It also ends a public and private partnership between Kids in Crisis and the Department of Children and Families that has effectively and efficiently helped children in crisis for over 37 years.
Since its founding in 1978, Kids in Crisis has helped more than 132,000 Connecticut children and families; last year, over 6,184 children and families received assistance from the organization. Kids in Crisis is Connecticut’s only free, round-the-clock agency providing emergency shelter, crisis counseling and community educational programs for children of all ages and families dealing with a wide range of crises domestic violence, mental health and family problems, substance abuse, economic difficulties and more.
On a local basis Kids in Crisis has been a critical partner to the Greenwich Police Department when there is an emergency situation involving children who need services and emergency housing.
On a daily basis in Greenwich middle schools, the Kids in Crisis Teen Talk program supplements the district’s staff in addressing situations when the students are in need of intensive counseling or just someone to talk to.
Further, Kids in Crisis is a critical team member for the Greenwich Police Department’s restorative justice programs. Without their assistance and case management, our department would not have seen the decrease in juvenile delinquent incidents and recidivism.
Children involved with the Department of Children and Families continue to be served by Kids in Crisis with no financial compensation. The state and community must continue to support Kids in Crisis for the safety of Connecticut children.
James J. Heavey
The writer is Greenwich’s chief of police.