Nebraska Law Enforcement Leaders Say Quality Early Learning Can Help Keep Kids Out of Prison Later
"High-quality early childhood programs provide kids with a strong start that prepares them for success in school and reduces the risk of future involvement in crime," said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine July 20 as he and Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning released a new report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids on the role early learning experiences play in promoting public safety and children's social outcomes.
Sheriff Dunning emphasized that risk factors often persist across generations in families. "This is a cycle that we can -- and need -- to stop," he said. "But in order to break these cycles, we have to start as early as the destructive patterns do. That means investing in quality programs for our youngest kids, particularly those who are at risk."
The report, Reducing Crime Begins with Early Learning, outlines why it's essential for Nebraskans to pay attention to quality early learning if the state is to deal with its increasingly serious crime and prison overcrowding problems.
Kleine and Dunning cited Nebraska's Sixpence early learning fund as a good example of programs that enable parents to better guide their children's cognitive and social-emotional growth. However, the need is far greater than what Sixpence can address. It currently reaches about 8% of Nebraska's children at risk under age 3.
Top Photo: Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine (left) and Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning