Blog | April 6, 2022

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Members Testify in Minnesota Joint Early Childhood - Public Safety Committee Hearing

In support, over 40 Minnesota members sign onto a letter asking the legislature to fund early childhood care and education

On Friday, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie and Thief River Falls Chief Marissa Adam testified in a joint hearing between the Minnesota Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee and the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee. They spoke to the committee members about how research and their own experiences help support the connection between investments in high-quality early childhood education programs and public safety.

Sheriff Leslie started by outlining, “This is a pay me now or pay me later proposition.” He went on to describe the jail he operates in Dakota County and how early childhood education serves as “an investment upstream, towards proven methods.” Finally, he talked about his young grandchildren with whom he loves to read and play, and how “all kids need the stimulation, the opportunity to learn.”

Sheriff Tim Leslie
Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie testifying

Chief Adam testified next, “I’m here to make the case that early childhood care and learning programs impact not just the success of our youngest children—but also the next generation of law enforcement leaders like myself. These leaders will be set up to fail if Minnesota does not invest in evidence-based programs that reduce crime by preventing young people from coming into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place.” She went on to explain the research behind programs proven to help kids succeed and why so many families are still struggling to access them. In fact, speaking with her local Head Start director, Chief Adam learned there were 250 children who needed child care just in her small city.

Chief Marissa Adam
Thief River Falls Chief Marissa Adam testifying

The two law enforcement leaders referenced data from a new Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Minnesota research report, High-Quality Early Learning and Care is Crime Prevention. They also touted a letter signed by 43 Minnesota Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members, which outlined the importance of early childhood programs for a strong and safe Minnesota, and urged legislators to invest in these programs.

As the letter stated: “Our state is at a crossroads. With a more than $9 billion budget surplus this year, we are in a unique position to invest in what we prioritize: our children. When our children are given the foundation they need to succeed, working families will benefit today, and the next generation will see less crime and greater productivity.”

Watch a video of the testimony below:


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