High-Quality Early Pre-K Helps Drive Children’s Path to Success and Protects Public Safety
High-quality early childhood education has the potential to positively change the life path trajectory for children, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds who face compounding challenges.
At birth, incarceration is an unimaginable future for a child. However, when children are faced with adversities such as poverty, childhood abuse and neglect, under-resourced communities, inadequate preparation for school, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems, the susceptibility for criminal behaviors that lead to incarceration is heightened. All too often that path toward crime can be established in the early years of a child’s life. However, research shows high-quality early childhood education (ECE) has the potential to positively change the life path trajectory for children, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds who face compounding challenges. Pre-k plays an important role in helping make that progression.
Quality pre-k programs return an average “profit” (economic benefits minus costs) to society of more than $22,000 for every child served. Applying that cost savings estimate to the approximately 30,000 Pennsylvanian children from low-income families who are currently served by the Pre-K Counts and Head Start State Supplemental Assistance programs, Pennsylvania could realize about $660 million in societal benefits over their lifetimes. If we invest in our kids today, we will pay far less for the costs of crime and lack of educational success in the years to come. That’s being “smart” on crime.