Report | January 13, 2017

Reducing Crime Begins with Early Learning

High-quality early childhood programs put children on a path to success

Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers. The most effective 0-to-3 programs focus on improving parents’ skills as caregivers and educators, better preparing them to guide their children’s development from day one.

In Nebraska, for example, less than eight percent of at-risk children ages 0-to-3 are enrolled in a high-quality early learning program. Many of the families who do have access are enrolled through Nebraska’s Sixpence Early Learning Fund, which funds parent engagement and child care programs that reach roughly 1,000 infants and toddlers at-risk.

In Nebraska, less than 8% of at-risk children ages 0 to 3 are enrolled in a high-quality early learning program.

Home-based parent engagement programs support families

The majority (70 percent) of Sixpence funding goes to voluntary, home-based parent engagement programs. In these programs, a trained professional from the school district works with expectant or new parents to teach them crucial parenting skills that support their infant’s health, safety, and development.

Research on home-based parent engagement programs shows they improve children’s health, well-being, and development. For example, a study of one program found a 60 percent reduction in infant mortality rates, and research on another program found that participating children were 30 percent less likely to need special education in elementary school.

Home-based parent engagement programs prevent crime

A long-term study of another parent engagement program found that, by age 19, children who participated in the program had half as many arrests and convictions compared to those left out. The results were concentrated among the girls in the program.


  1. Nebraska