I appreciated Sen. Jim Dill’s April 6 column (online only) on the role communities play in recognizing and preventing child abuse and neglect. It is heart-wrenching to think about any child suffering from abuse.

Fortunately, we have one solution to the problem here in Maine. It’s a voluntary home visiting program called Maine Families that enables parents of young children to receive advice from trained mentors on how to respond to stressful parenting situations, make their homes safe for children and protect their kids’ health. These home visitors do so much to improve the parenting skills for young parents who don’t have a support system or sufficient financial resources and, in many cases, help parents become more self-sufficient as well.

The program’s successes are impressive. Of the 160 families Maine Families worked with last year through Child and Protective Services, more than 90 percent had no further reports of child abuse or neglect while in the program. Additionally, 92 percent of children age 19- to 36-months were up-to-date with immunizations and 72 percent with checkups.

Research shows that quality home visiting programs not only result in significantly reduced child abuse and neglect but also in reduced future crime by kids who participate. Studies also indicate more parents pursue their education and enter the workforce.

Maine lawmakers are currently considering legislation (LD 1225) that would increase funding for home visiting services for foster families and strengthen home visiting workforce. I encourage Maine lawmakers to support that legislation.

LD 1225 is an important investment in Maine families and kids.

Jason Moen, Chief of Police, Auburn