Many years ago, when I taught Kindergarten, I saw a cartoon that depicted picketers in front of the capitol complaining “No More Money for Schools” and “Build More Prisons”. As sad as it was, it seemed to so well express legislative priorities.
Research shows the correlation between high-quality early education and quality of life issues, such as high school graduation and jail time. The group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids studies crime prevention strategies, works to make the public and policymakers aware of the findings, and urges investment in research-proven programs. They identify themselves as a group of “nearly 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, attorneys general and other law enforcement leaders and violence survivors”.
The United States currently has about 2 million criminals incarcerated at the cost of about $75 billion per year. A study in Chicago showed that children enrolled in high-quality child care or parent coaching programs were 20 percent less likely to be arrested for a felony or be incarcerated as young adults than their peers. This doesn’t include the benefits like increased high school graduation rates, better health, or less receipt of welfare. Recent research demonstrates that society profits, financially, by $25,000 per child served in a high-quality early education program when you deduct the cost of the program from the lifetime savings.
Of course, those of us who provide care realize that the money is nothing compared to the positive impact on the lives of these children. So...to all of you who provide high-quality child care....well done, thank you, and keep up the good work! It truly does make a difference.