Letter: Investing in children early is pivotal

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 07:17 PM

To the Editor:

As the police chief in Henderson, I can you that high quality early childcare and education programs are a critical strategy to reduce crime, lower corrections costs and save taxpayers money. While my law enforcement colleagues and I work hard to reduce crime, the state still spends more than $1 billion on corrections.

High-quality early education can keep children from ever starting down the expensive path leading to prison. Ninety percent of critical brain development happens during that time. The actual wiring that forms the brain’s architecture happens in infancy and early childhood. And how that wiring is formed, either as a strong or weak foundation, depends on a child’s earliest experiences.

For a strong foundation, children need strong families, environments that support healthy outcomes and early care and education programs that are safe and provide opportunities for learning. High quality early education programs yield higher graduation rates, reduced crime, higher earnings, less reliance on social services and better jobs. This broader societal impact is so significant that law enforcement professionals like me recognize early childhood investments are essential to our ability to prevent crime.

There are only 2,000 days from the time a baby is born to when that child begins kindergarten. Investing in those early days produces a lifetime of results for children and the communities in which they live.

Keith Sidwell