Interview with K.P. Pelleran, Director of Fight Crime, Invest in Kids in Michigan
Kari: Why was Fight Crime, Invest in Kids founded? Who founded it and where is headquarters located?
Ms. Pelleran: In 1996, Sanford Newman with the help of a handful of others, including former US Attorney General Elliot Richardson, founded the Fight Crime organization in an office basement in Washington D.C. Currently Fight Crime has 10 state offices with members in all 50 states and a central Headquarters in D.C.
Kari: What is the main goal of Fight Crime?
Ms. Pelleran: The Mission is to educate both the public and governmental decision makers on the importance of preventing children from becoming involved in crimes. They advocate a 4-pronged approach:
1. Provide all families access to high-quality early care and education for kids from birth to age five.
2. Offer voluntary parent coaching to at-risk parents of young children through home visiting or other options proven to prevent child abuse and neglect.
3. Ensure all school-age children and youth have access to effective programs during school hours and after school to help keep them on track.
4. Identify troubled and delinquent kids and provide them and their parents effective interventions so the children will avoid a life of crime.
Kari: What is Fight Crime’s purpose in or connection to Michigan government?
Ms. Pelleran: Fight Crime is a nonprofit organization that focuses on educating the public and Michigan lawmakers about the benefits of investing in programs proven to help children, particularly at-risk children, to become successful. Although their policy staff members are registered lobbyists, the members get involved and share their ideas with key decision-makers. However, that education often ends up reflected in policy change.
Kari: As Director, how has the current political and economic climate affected you?
Ms. Pelleran: It’s a never-ending job. The economy over the last 9 years has shown a 45% decrease in real dollar revenue. Programming has become incredibly difficult because many programs Fight Crime advocates on behalf of for public support have been poised for reductions or elimination in this year’s budget process, e.g. pre-school programs, child abuse and neglect prevention. New uncharted fees are being seen as well. The Legislature holding up the budget is only hurting those that benefit from the programs advocated by Fight Crime.
Kari: What do you think is the biggest obstacle you currently face?
Ms. Pelleran: Term Limits. Anytime Fight Crime makes a friend or connection with a legislator, a senator, or their staff, they’re gone and historical bonds are thus prevented from forming. These term limits affect many of the additional staffs, committees, councils, and fiscal agencies involved with the legislative branch. The constant revolving door of new legislators makes it difficult to form strong bonds with people that could make a difference.
Kari: What is the most important right now for the Fight Crime here in Michigan?
Ms. Pelleran: State funded support for programs for children ages 0-5. This is the most important stage in a child’s development when it comes to brain activity, development, and socialization. This is a key area of investment because it makes a big difference between a developmentally sound child with a strong family bond and a broken family involved with the justice system. Creating these family bonds will keep families together, and give kids a constant source of support that will help keep them out of legal trouble.
Kari: How are you going to deal with the budget cuts that are taking place in Michigan government?
Ms. Pelleran: Fight Crime will do what it has always done. Go out every budget cycle and educate lawmakers, create opportunities to speak with local experts and advocate the funding of programs that have been proven to give kids the right start in life. Holding meetings with lawmakers and members of Fight Crime both in-district and at the State Capitol, and sending personal letters from members are common methods that help get results.