Law Enforcement Leaders Say Preschool Reduces Violent Crime, Saves Millions in Education Costs



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Law Enforce­ment Lead­ers Say Preschool Reduces Vio­lent Crime, Saves Mil­lions in Edu­ca­tion Costs

Sher­iff, police chiefs, state’s attor­neys call on state law­mak­ers to make high-qual­i­ty ear­ly learn­ing pro­grams a top priority


Spring­field, IL—(March 9, 2011) Law enforce­ment lead­ers from across Illi­nois gath­ered in Spring­field today to meet with leg­isla­tive lead­ers and call on law­mak­ers to make the state’s preschool pro­gram a top pri­or­i­ty in next year’s budget.


At a press con­fer­ence Mor­gan Coun­ty Sher­iff Randy Duven­dack, Algo­nquin Police Chief Russ Laine, Ogle Coun­ty State’s Attor­ney Ben Roe and Chan­na­hon Police Chief Joe Pena called on the state law mak­ers to restore cuts made to the state’s Preschool for All pro­gram and to address Illi­nois’ unpaid bills.


They were joined by Wabash Coun­ty Sher­iff Joe Keel­ing, Union Coun­ty State’s Attor­ney Tyler Edmonds and oth­ers to release a report show­ing that invest­ments in high-qual­i­ty ear­ly learn­ing pro­grams not only reduce future crime over the long run but also save mil­lions of dol­lars in the state’s edu­ca­tion bud­get in the short term. The report says that increas­ing the avail­abil­i­ty of preschool can reduce the need for spe­cial edu­ca­tion place­ments and oth­er K‑12 edu­ca­tion expens­es as chil­dren advance to lat­er grades.


In a chal­leng­ing eco­nom­ic envi­ron­ment, we must look at which invest­ments give us the most bang for our buck,” said Sher­iff Keel­ing.  “Our report shows that high-qual­i­ty ear­ly edu­ca­tion cuts edu­ca­tion costs and costs from crime.”


Delayed pay­ments and bud­get cuts have forced many preschool pro­grams to close or reduce avail­able slots, caus­ing thou­sands of chil­dren to lose preschool in the last 2 years. Law enforce­ment urged that the state Preschool for All pro­gram be fund­ed at its FY09 lev­el, and that law­mak­ers find a solu­tion that will allow the state to make good on promised pay­ments to programs.


The years before kinder­garten are crit­i­cal,” said State’s Attor­ney Edmonds. “Kids not only ben­e­fit aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly, but also learn social skills.  Not sur­pris­ing­ly, kids who attend high-qual­i­ty preschool are much less like­ly to become involved in crime later.”


They’re only four-years-old once. The preschool years are a sin­gu­lar oppor­tu­ni­ty. If chil­dren have access to qual­i­ty ear­ly learn­ing dur­ing that time, the ben­e­fits will fol­low kids far into their adult lives,” said State’s Attor­ney Roe. “Every month that goes by under these cir­cum­stances is a lost oppor­tu­ni­ty to change the tra­jec­to­ry of the lives of thou­sands of children.”


The report con­cludes that invest­ments in vol­un­tary high-qual­i­ty ear­ly learn­ing pro­grams in Illi­nois can:


n  Save up to $200 mil­lion in K‑through-12 edu­ca­tion costs by low­er­ing the num­ber of chil­dren requir­ing spe­cial edu­ca­tion ser­vices due to behav­ioral prob­lems and devel­op­men­tal delays;

n  Save an addi­tion­al $200 mil­lion in edu­ca­tion costs by reduc­ing the need for chil­dren to repeat grades and by help­ing kids learn more effectively;

n  Reduce vio­lent crime and save tax­pay­ers mil­lions of dol­lars more by reduc­ing costs for cor­rec­tions, wel­fare and oth­er gov­ern­ment-fund­ed services.


On top of these short-term edu­ca­tion sav­ings, we know that over the long term the sav­ings can total as much as $16 for every $1 spent on qual­i­ty preschool- and most of that stems from reduced crime,” said Sher­iff McCoy “These stud­ies sup­port what law enforce­ment already knows from expe­ri­ence. I know first hand that giv­ing the youngest chil­dren a good ear­ly start in life can result in few­er of these kids becom­ing involved in crime lat­er in life – which is a huge ben­e­fit to every tax­pay­er in Illinois,”


Among sev­er­al stud­ies cit­ed in the report is a long-term study of Michigan’s Per­ry Preschool that fol­lowed two groups of at-risk, low-income 3- and 4‑year-olds, begin­ning in 1962.  One group attend­ed the Per­ry Preschool Pro­gram. The oth­er did not. The study found that chil­dren who did not attend the high-qual­i­ty pro­gram were five times more like­ly to be chron­ic offend­ers than chil­dren who did par­tic­i­pate. By age 40, the kids who did not attend the pro­gram were twice as like­ly to be arrest­ed for vio­lent crimes than those who participated.


The Per­ry preschool pro­gram also helped sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the need for spe­cial edu­ca­tion. Chil­dren who attend­ed the Per­ry pro­gram were 43 per­cent less like­ly to be placed in spe­cial edu­ca­tion dur­ing their K‑12 years.


Algo­nquin Police Chief Laine not­ed that qual­i­ty ear­ly learn­ing pro­grams help build core learn­ing and social skills among at-risk chil­dren at an ear­ly age. The result: few­er chil­dren who par­tic­i­pate in qual­i­ty ear­ly learn­ing pro­grams require spe­cial edu­ca­tion in lat­er years.


Spe­cial edu­ca­tion is nec­es­sary, but expen­sive,” said Sher­iff Schnei­der “By invest­ing in ear­ly learn­ing and get­ting more kids ready to start school, we can reduce the num­ber of chil­dren who require extra edu­ca­tion­al ser­vices – and save our school dis­tricts mon­ey in a tough econ­o­my, while also reduc­ing crime over the long term.”


While the report not­ed that Illi­nois had tak­en steps to improve and expand ear­ly learn­ing, only 30 per­cent of all Illi­nois three-year olds and 43 per­cent of all four-year-olds are served by pub­licly fund­ed ear­ly learn­ing programs.


Illi­nois spends near­ly $2 bil­lion a year on spe­cial edu­ca­tion ser­vices, but invests only about $304 mil­lion a year on preschool pro­grams, accord­ing to the report. The new analy­sis shows that if all chil­dren had access to qual­i­ty ear­ly child­hood pro­grams, through a com­bi­na­tion of fund­ing from state and fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, plus indi­vid­ual fam­i­lies, the state could save as much as $200 mil­lion in spe­cial edu­ca­tion costs and an addi­tion­al $200 mil­lion in sav­ings from reduc­tions in grade reten­tion and kids learn­ing more effec­tive­ly. As a result, the total K‑12 edu­ca­tion sav­ings could reach $400 mil­lion a year.


Every­thing we do as law enforce­ment offi­cials has to be in the best inter­ests of pub­lic safe­ty,” said Chief Pena. “Invest­ing in high-qual­i­ty ear­ly edu­ca­tion will not only reduce crime, it will save tax­pay­er dol­lars and help make sure that all kids are ready to suc­ceed in school.”


The law enforce­ment lead­ers also not­ed that increas­ing invest­ments in high-qual­i­ty ear­ly learn­ing can add up to a total return on invest­ment of as much as $16 per dol­lar spent over the long-term. These sav­ings large­ly come from reduced crime, cor­rec­tions as well as the edu­ca­tion­al savings.


The law enforce­ment mem­bers in atten­dance are mem­bers of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nation­al anti-crime orga­ni­za­tion of police chiefs, sher­iffs, pros­e­cu­tors, attor­neys gen­er­al and vio­lence sur­vivors, with over 300 mem­bers in Illi­nois and over 5,000 mem­bers nationwide.