Op-ed: This November, Support the Children’s Safety Levy
Here’s the sad truth about child abuse and neglect: despite major events like COVID-19, an national economic downturn, and devastating local wildfires, neither of these things have gone away. In fact, we believe both child abuse and neglect might be exacerbated by these difficult circumstances.
Unfortunately, even in the best of times, our organization (as well as others in our community) has to work quite hard to raise the critical funds we need to remain stable and to provide important services to children and families in need. That is why our board and staff are coming out in strong support of the Yes for Clackamas Kids Campaign.
This campaign is working to pass the Children’s Safety Levy, which will be on the November ballot for Clackamas County voters. If passed, it will cost homeowners 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which translates to about $45 per year for a home assessed at $300,000. The levy is expected to provide about $7.5 million annually in revenue.
The funds from the levy will be granted to organizations in our community who serve kids impacted by abuse, neglect and violence. We believe Children’s Center, as well as many of our partners, will benefit greatly if this levy passes. Most importantly, vulnerable children in our community will be better served.
Pamela White, Children’s Center’s Development Director, recently shared an important message with the community about why she is supporting the levy in an Opinion Editorial (op-ed). Her article has appeared in a number of online Pamplin Media papers since it was first published last week, and we have been given permission to reprint the article in full below.
We invite you to read what Pamela has to say and join us in supporting Measure 3-564, the Children’s Safety Levy in this November’s election.
The below article was written by Pamela White, and originally printed as an Op-Ed in the Oregon City News on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 and is reprinted with permission.
Clackamas Children’s Safety Levy deserves broad support
Measure 3-564 is designed specifically to serve children and youth impacted by violence, neglect and abuse
One thing I’ve learned in 2020 is that our worlds can turn upside down at any moment. Since March, our communities have endured a series of hardships — from a global pandemic that forced us to rethink the ways we interact with each other to devastating wildfires that forced us from our homes. Crises such as these hit us all pretty hard, none harder than our most vulnerable neighbors, including our county’s children and youth.
Before the pandemic, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) estimated that thousands of children in Clackamas County were suspected victims of violence, abuse and neglect. Since then, local law enforcement and local social service organizations have seen a dramatic increase in these incidents and are confident that they will continue to rise in the wake of the most recent horrific fires that displaced our communities. The bottom line is that Clackamas County’s need for children’s safety services has never been greater.
As the parent of a child who has survived abuse at the hands of a caretaker, I know what it’s like to see a child struggle with the trauma of such events. It was devastating to watch our then 3-year-old detail how she was abused by a babysitter. It was heart-wrenching to witness my child weep silently through the required invasive medical exam. I felt helpless when my child resorted to self-harm to cope with the effects of the abuse inflicted on her. No child should have to endure what my child endured. If they do, they should be able to access trusted and proven support service right here in our community.
That is one of the many reasons I am honored to work for the Children’s Center of Clackamas County. Every day I work alongside our dedicated team of highly trained professionals and volunteers as they work with children and youth who’ve endured unspeakable violence, abuse and neglect, and safe families who feel as helpless as I did. We see firsthand the impacts of these traumas on our county’s kids and understand that we can’t do it alone; we need the whole community to meaningfully address the critical need for intervention and support services that exist in Clackamas County.
That’s why I’m a strong supporter of the Clackamas Children’s Safety Levy (Measure 3-564), a measure that is designed specifically to serve children and youth impacted by violence, neglect and abuse. When passed, the levy will create a dedicated source of funding for critical safety services for children and youth, delivered by trusted local organizations to Clackamas County children and families. As a parent and professional working in the field, I believe that locally based community programs, like the Children’s Center and many others, are uniquely qualified and appropriately positioned to perform this work and maximize the greatest return on investment.
As we navigate the dueling crises of a pandemic, an economic downturn and now widespread fires, it’s important to remember the immense need for support services in our community. We need to act now to protect our most vulnerable kids.
Pamela White is a parent of an abuse survivor, a 32-year resident of Clackamas County, an Oregon City School Board member and the development director at Children’s Center, a local nonprofit advocacy center that offers intervention, treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect in Clackamas County.