In a recent guest column, banker Mike Edwards makes the excellent point that investing in high-quality early childhood education helps strengthen the state's economy because children who attend these programs are more likely to be successful in school, graduate and become gainfully employed as adults.
As a sheriff, I want to add that providing at-risk children with early childhood education can also help us improve public safety. Clearly, when kids have early opportunities to develop learning skills, interact in positive ways with their peers and gain respect for adults, they are much better prepared for grade school. Research has also shown that these kids are much more likely to steer clear from crime when they get older.
According to the same Michigan study Edwards describes, children left out of the preschool were five times more likely to be chronic offenders by age 27 than children who did participate. By age 40 the kids left out were also significantly more likely to be arrested for serious crimes such as felony drug-related crimes and violent felonies.
I’m glad to see there is strong bipartisan support for our state’s preschool program for low-income children, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.
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My job is to make sure Thurston County is a safe place to live, work and raise a family. I know that providing our children with an excellent start through programs like ECEAP will help ensure that this is true for years to come.