Cedar Rapids Chief of Police Greg Graham met with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D) recently to discuss his support for high-quality early care and education programs as an effective strategy to reduce crime and save taxpayer dollars. He cited research showing that getting kids into high-quality early education programs can help reduce crime and later criminal justice costs, including corrections.
A Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, composed of six Democrats and six Republicans, is currently meeting. Chief Graham asked Senator Harkin to recommend to the Joint Committee to make funding for early care and education a priority, while they work to develop a bipartisan compromise to reduce the national debt. He also asked Sen. Harkin to make these programs a priority during the 2012 appropriations process.
“There’s no question that we’ve got to do something about the national debt, but educating our youngest kids must be a priority within whatever framework Congress decides on,” Chief Graham said. “We need to support high-quality early care and education to help kids start school ready to learn, ensure that they graduate and steer them away from crime and high-risk behavior.”
He delivered a letter signed by more than 650 law enforcement leaders - www.fightcrime.org/page/view-our-national-sign-letter-congress-600-law-enforcement-leaders-50-states-join-support-early - from all 50 states urging Congress to make funding for early care and education programs a priority during ongoing negotiations to reduce the deficit, as well as a letter signed by over 52 Iowa law enforcement officials regarding 2012 funding for early childhood development.
As the chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Sen. Harkin may serve as a key source of input to the Joint Committee regarding those matters.
New evidence published in the prestigious research journal Science - www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/06/08/science.1203618 - provides new evidence that high-quality early care and education programs can prevent crime and save taxpayers millions of dollars. A decades-later follow-up of over 1,400 low-income children in Chicago found that those who did not attend the Child-Parent Center preschools were 27 percent more likely to have a felony arrest by age 26 and were almost 40 percent more likely to have spent time in jail. Earlier analysis found that this program saved more than $10 for every $1 spent, from reduced crime and other costs to the public.
Despite the research on the benefits of early education, many of the at-risk children who need access still do not have it. According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, less than 30 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in poverty were served by Head Start in 2009, and only 2 percent of eligible children under age 3 were served in Early Head Start during the same period. Less than one in six eligible children in low-income families receive support for child care through the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
Chief Graham is a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids -www.fightcrime , a national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors with 163 members in Iowa and more than 5,000 members nationwide.
Visit www.fightcrime.org/ia for more information on activities in Iowa.