Law Enforcement Leaders Call For Support Of Early Learning Programs
Story and photos by Nicholas Johnson
Area law enforcement leaders gathered at the Educare Early Learning Center in White Center on Wednesday morning (Sept. 15) to release a report urging Washington’s Congressional representatives and state leaders to continue funding early learning programs.
“Supporting high quality urban learning will lead to safer communities, save the taxpayers dollars and ensure that our children get off to the right start,” said King County Sheriff Sue Rahr.
The report emphasizes both long-term crime reduction and short-term state budget savings as a result of increased investment in early learning programs. Washington is expected to save as much as $240 million each year. Researchers found that $16 could be saved for each dollar spent, in the long-run.
“The research is clear. My personal experience is clear,” Rahr said. “And that is that these programs help the children get the right start in life and reduce the likelihood of them getting involved in crime.”
If all Washington’s children were exposed to high-quality early learning programs, findings showed that cost reductions ranging from six percent to 48 percent in special education, currently funded at $1.2 billion a year, could be achieved.
Each year since 2008, Washington’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program has experienced cuts, resulting in a waiting list expansion of 250 percent because fewer children may enroll.
Sneaking into the conference halfway through, 33rd District Representative Tina Orwall jumped at the chance to address her experiences with struggling children.
“I have been very involved in the schools that my children attend,” she said. “And I could often see in third and fourth grade kids struggling to read. And that’s such a pivotal moment in kids’ lives – whether they embrace education or they disengage.
“I think the more we do for early intervention the better we’re going to help these kids whose paths are not yet determined.”
Burien Police Chief Scott Kimerer and Normandy Park Police Chief Rick Kieffer also spoke.
Read the full report here (PDF file).