Tucson is just one of many communities across the United States seeking to increase opportunities for young children to participate in high-quality early learning programs. Some of the benefits of such programs are obvious. Parents can go to work knowing that their children are safe and well cared for. Kids have a stimulating day full of activities designed to delight and challenge them.
But the benefits of high-quality preschool programs go far beyond the direct experience of the families who participate. Research has shown that kids who participate in early learning programs are less likely to get into legal trouble, not only saving themselves the pain and lost opportunities associated with juvenile crime, but saving their communities the disruption and danger of crime and the high costs of arrest, prosecution, and detention.
Recognizing these benefits, thousands of law enforcement personnel--police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors, other law enforcement executives--have joined together to form Fight Crime, Invest in Kids, a 5,000-member national organization that aims to promote programs that cut crime and put kids on the path to productive lives. High on their list of such programs are early learning programs. Working through state and federal government, members won $1.75 billion in new state funding for early childhood programs, and $2.4 billion in federal funding in 2014 and 2015.
Visiting one such program, Craig Stedman, District Attorney of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania said he sees many crime statistics, but the best statistic is ". . . one I don't see. I would be happy if the results here put me out of a job. I think we'd rather pay for an education than an incarceration."
Strong Start Tucson expects to provide resources to support up to 8,000 children in high-quality classrooms, joining other forward-looking communities that are working to ensure that every child has an opportunity to shine.