Years ago, our forefathers created public schools because they understood that we all have a stake in our neighbors getting a good education. Today, we know that the first few years are the most critical to children's mental and emotional development. And we all know it is better to prevent crime before it happens, instead of waiting to rebuild the shattered lives it leaves in its wake.
This means investing in kids at their earliest years by helping struggling families afford quality child care. Studies show that making sure at-risk toddlers and their mothers had quality care and child development resources cut by five to 10 times the risk those kids would end up involved in crime as teens or adults.One of those studies even found it had prevented $150,000 per child in crime costs.
If I said you could have just one delinquent in your neighborhood instead of 10 and save thousands of dollars by making sure all at-risk kids get quality preschool care, the choice would be an easy one.
This year, Congress has the chance to protect public safety and public health by designating new tobacco tax revenues or a portion of the federal budget surplus to support child care and after-school programs. Through groups like Fight Crime and Invest in Kids (www.fightcrime.org), prosecutors, sheriffs, police chiefs and even crime victims are saying, "We can pay now for the child care and after-school programs proven to help kids becoming good neighbors or we can pay far more later on in money and lives when some of those kids end up as tomorrow's criminals." Let's hope our elected leaders within the state and Washington find the will and the way to do what's right and support funding these types of programs.
Kenneth E. McGuire
Director of Public Safety