Brief | February 17, 2022

Preschool Key to Boosting School Success and Enhancing Public Safety

The nation could realize billions in societal benefits by increasing access to high-quality preschool programs

The law enforcement leaders of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids have advocated for 25 years for investments in policies and programs that put kids on the path toward productive lives. We know that one of the best ways to keep young people from becoming involved in crime later on is to make sure they have a foundation for educational success in their earliest years. In particular, by providing access to high-quality preschool education for kids today, we can see less crime and incarceration in the future, while reaping enormous economic and societal benefits.

An independent cost-benefit analysis of universal preschool programs showed that they can return, on average, a “profit” (economic benefits minus costs) to society of more than $15,000 for every child served. The benefits accrue due to increased test scores, which are associated with higher earnings in adulthood, as well as decreases in costs to society, such as children being held back in school or needing special education.

Applying the estimated $15,000 per child net benefit to the approximately six million additional children who would be served by the preschool provision in the Build Back Better Act, our nation could realize a return on investment of $90 billion over the lifetime of these children.

High-quality early education provides one of the best ways to set children on the path to success and help them avoid becoming involved in crime later. Congress should act during this unique moment to bolster the early education system, to reap economic and societal benefits, including increased public safety.

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  1. Early Learning
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