To the editor:
In response to last week’s article on early childhood programs, I want to add my support to those who are standing up for these vital services. These programs not only provide an early introduction to learning for young children but also help working parents find quality daytime care for their children. In addition, high-quality early education helps improve public safety.
As district attorney, I see troubled young people end up in the criminal justice system, who might have led very different, and much more productive, lives if they had a better start in life. Early learning opportunities help get kids the right start to their education, improving the odds that they will start school well-prepared, graduate, and become law-abiding citizens.
Investing in early education also saves money. Young people who go on to become career criminals cost the state millions of dollars in corrections and other undesirable expenses. A study of Chicago’s Child Parent Centers found that providing at-risk kids high-quality preschool saved about $70,000 per person through reduced crime, welfare and other costs over time. Those are real savings.
That’s why I advise Kansas lawmakers not to cut early childhood programs in this year’s budget. Yes, we are in tough budget times, but we know investing in early care and education programs for the youngest children will have a positive impact in reducing later crime and delinquency.