Importance of PACE centers acknowledged by Gov. Bush

Published: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 11:52 p.m.

As a board member and supporter of the PACE Center for Girls, I want to congratulate and thank the governor and his budget office for recommending PACE for full funding. The existence of this incredibly effective program in our state is an asset that we need and one we can all be proud of.

The critical need for PACE centers in our communities is revealed by reviewing the facts. Girls are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system nationally and in Florida. The number of girls arrested for violent felonies has more than doubled in the past eight years. Research shows the pathway to the criminal justice system for girls is paved by prior victimization, trauma and abuse. For girls in juvenile justice, as high as 92 percent of the girls have histories of sexual abuse and 73 percent of girls in the juvenile justice system are victims of violence.

PACE Center for Girls, Inc. is the only nationally recognized model that clearly addresses these issues presented by at-risk girls and effectively creates change at a very efficient cost. Ninety-four percent of the girls who complete PACE do not enter or re-enter the juvenile justice system.

These outstanding outcomes are what keep me supporting this organization with my talents, time and financial support. I again thank Gov. Bush and urge the Legislature to support his budget recommendations. By funding PACE our decision-makers in Tallahassee are providing thousands of girls in Florida the gift of a brighter future and hope for tomorrow.

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