Funding Programs for Child Delinquents: Whose Responsibility Is It?

Hope Melton, Ramsey Co. All Children Excel (ACE) Prg.
Trisha Beuhring, University of Minnesota

Radical changes in the way prevention services are delivered will necessitate significant changes in the way they are funded. Effective programs for child delinquents are based on comprehensive, long term, and based on multi-jurisdictional, multi-sector collaboration. It has been estimated that a single serious, violent, and chronic adult offender costs society between $1.7 and $2.3 million over his/her lifetime in school dropout, drug abuse, victim, and criminal justice system costs. The savings from programs like Ramsey County ACE, which focuses on preventing child delinquents from becoming career criminals, will accrue to taxpayers and institutions at all levels. This suggests these same groups should share responsibility for funding the program. The question becomes who pays what proportion of the costs, and when. This presentation will review the issues to be considered. These include the fact that early interventions require a large investment now for benefits that won't be received for years, and that local government typically bears the intervention cost during childhood while state government reaps the savings that occur during late adolescence and adulthood. Moreover, the greatest benefits do not flow back to government coffers. These benefits include safer communities, a better business climate and a better climate for learning in schools.

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Updated 05/20/2006