Report | April 1, 2022

High-Quality Early Care & Learning is Crime Prevention

Early childhood programs set children on the path to success in Minnesota

More than one-quarter of Minnesota children did not meet the overall school readiness benchmark at kindergarten entry. Children from families with higher incomes were twice as likely to meet the benchmark than children from families with lower incomes. Children who enter school unready to learn may never catch up—underperforming in third-grade reading and math, more likely to be held back in school, and less likely to graduate from high school on time. Some may even end up involved in crime.

High-quality early childhood care and learning (ECL) programs can help reduce these risks by working with parents to give children a good start in life. Research shows that high-quality ECL can increase the likelihood that children succeed in school and steer clear of crime.

The next generation of Minnesotans will see the value of early childhood investments through less crime, safer communities, and more productive community members.

Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart, President of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association

Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) provides financial assistance to parents with low incomes that allows them to access high-quality child care while they are working or attending school. However, CCAP does not serve all eligible children, and reimbursement rates for providers remain inadequate. Minnesota’s publicly funded preschool programs currently reach only 24 percent of 4-year-olds and 12 percent of 3-year-olds, and funding for Early Learning Scholarships falls short of need.

With a more than $9 billion budget surplus this year, we are in a unique position to invest in young children and strengthen Minnesota’s future. When we invest in early learning programs, we put children—and the state—on a path toward greater safety and prosperity.


  1. Minnesota