In Amy Calder’s April 9 column, “Preventing child abuse and neglect is up to all of us,” she lays a sound argument for the value of home visiting. I know firsthand that innovative approaches to prevent neglect and abuse are invaluable — they not only immediately assist children, but keep them from future involvement in crime.

There were 3,372 of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in Maine in 2015. One study found that children who experience abuse or neglect are twice as likely to commit a crime by age 19 compared to similar children who haven’t been abused or neglected. Voluntary home visiting, however, has been proven to cut child abuse and neglect in half, in turn preventing crime.

Maine receives key monies for its voluntary program Maine Families Home Visiting through the federal home visiting structure, known as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. MIECHV allows Maine families to serve at-risk families throughout the state. In fiscal year 2015, more than 2,500 families were served by the local program.

If Congress does not act this fall, though, those very families could be in jeopardy. It is imperative that this fall Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin and Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King support MIECHV when it comes up for reauthorization. The program needs to be both maintained, and expanded, in the interest of our communities’ well-being and public safety.

Robert Gregoire

chief of police

Augusta