York Daily Record: Investing in Pre-k Really Does Cut Crime (Editorial)

Debate in Harrisburg will soon begin in earnest to adopt a state budget for fiscal year 2015-16, and education funding will be front and center.

Among the proposals being sought by Gov. Tom Wolf is increased funding for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, an initiative that recently attracted outspoken support from some unusual kindergarten bedfellows: the law enforcement community.

State district attorneys held a press conference April 29 to introduce a report, “We’re the Guys You Pay Later” by the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids coalition. The report makes the case that more money is spent on jailing adult defendants than on investing in education for children. That early investment can be shown, the report argues, to change the path for at-risk children from potential criminals to productive members of society.

Looking to early education to prevent crime is gaining traction nationwide. According to the report, children who participated in high-quality preschool and parent coaching programs through Chicago’s Child-Parent Centers were found to be 20 percent less likely to be arrested or incarcerated for a felony as young adults than those who did not attend.

The benefits are evident on families as well as the enrolled children, the report states. The Chicago CPC program cut child abuse and neglect in half for the children served, compared to similar children from families not being helped.

A recent grant from the Kellogg Foundation is also allowing PEAK to reach out to families as early as when children are born and to help with their needs as parents during Literacy Nights and other outreach efforts.

Read the full editorial here.