New Children’s Safety Levy: What You Need to Know

This November, Clackamas County residents will be asked to consider a new property levy tax in order to fund services for local youth who have been victims of violence, abuse, or neglect. The following article provides information about not only the levy itself, but how this levy came to be.

Children’s Center sends our thanks to the Clackamas County Commissioners and County Staff for sending the Children’s Safety Levy to the ballot in November 2020.

Read on learn more!

What’s the impact of trauma on children, their families, and the community?
On any given day in America, kids in general, are exposed to potential trauma producing images and information – and that is just on the news. But today’s political unrest and world-wide pandemic are just the tip of the iceberg for many children experiencing child abuse and neglect, exposure to domestic violence, chronic homelessness, parents with depression, family members being incarcerated and other traumatic childhood events. It is these events, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that must be mitigated for children, families, and our communities, so everyone can thrive.

As a result of the well-known, groundbreaking Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) studies we have ample documentation of the impacts of child abuse and neglect on the health and wellbeing of child survivors across their lifespan. The data tells us that the physical and emotional toxic stress resulting from abuse or neglect can lead to risky behaviors, chronic health conditions, mental health issues, substance use, low academic achievement, incarceration, limited life potential, and even early death.

Additionally, a 2012 study showed that new cases of child maltreatment in 2008 alone would account for a national economic, lifetime loss of 124 billion which is about 139 billion in today’s dollars. And this is just for child maltreatment. There are additional ACEs that include household dysfunction such as domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, and divorce, that would, if calculated, only increase that huge number.

Children’s Center believes this research is not just a highly useful framework for understanding the impact of adverse childhood experiences in individual children and families – it’s also a call to action for our entire community.

What can our community do about the effects of ACEs?
While no community has yet been able to fully prevent our children’s exposure to ACEs, there are proven programs and services that do protect children from trauma, abuse, and neglect. Right here in Clackamas County, in addition to the important work Children’s Center does, we have many non-profit organizations with services that are successfully building a safe and resilient community for our children and youth. Unfortunately, while we are all doing powerful work that changes the trajectory of a child’s life and mitigates the negative impact on our community, funding is often unstable.

To ensure that all our children reach their full potential, our community must provide safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments necessary to intervene in, treat and prevent violence, abuse, neglect, and home life destabilization. The Children’s Safety Levy will provide stable funding that builds a base of community investment to support organizations that are centered in and delivering services specifically to, children and families in Clackamas County.

How much will the Children’s Safety Levy cost?
The Children’s Safety Levy will ask voters to approve a property levy of .15 cents per $1000 assessed value; a homeowner with a home assessed at $300K will pay about $45 per year. This levy would have a duration of 5-years with a required voter-approved renewal at that time.

Who will receive funding?
The levy is written to fund organizations, like Children’s Center, that provide specific services serving kids in Clackamas County with a proven track record as identified through the agency’s mission and successful history of services. Programs within an agency that have specific goals and objectives to serve victims may also be eligible. Moreover, each organization will be held accountable to the County through contracts that include performance measures, monitoring requirements and annual progress reports via a committee who will be appointed by the County Commission and oversee the grant and reporting process. Appropriate dollars will stay with the County to pay for this oversight.

Who will benefit from these services?
Children and youth impacted by:

  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Domestic/dating/family violence
  • Human trafficking and sexual exploitation
  • Sexual violence
  • Homelessness (youth focused homelessness, runaway youth)
  • Children and youth in the foster care system
  • Children of incarcerated parents

What is community sentiment about this Levy?
Strategies 360 conducted a poll for the County on June 26-30, 2020. This poll included 400 likely voters who lived in West CC, Urbanized CC, South Rural and East Rural CC and were contacted via landline, mobile phone, and in an on-line survey. The following information emerged:

  • 57% of those surveyed immediately said “Yes, likely yes, lean towards yes” when asked if they would support a levy to provide services to kids who have experienced neglect or abuse.
  • When they were given information about cost, that number rose to 71%.
  • When they were given reasons for the need, the number went up to 73%.
  • 96% of those likely to vote yes and 93% of those who could be persuaded to vote yes, rated children who experience abuse or neglect as a high or top priority

How can I help the Children’s Center and the Kid’s Safety Coalition pass this Levy?
If this levy passes, the Children’s Center has the potential to be granted an amount that will make a real difference in stabilizing our funding streams. Our Organization endorses this levy and asks your help in passing it in November. Please take a look below and work with us to say “Yes!” for Clackamas kids.

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