JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, Joliet Police Chief Fred Hayes, and Channahon Police Chief Joe Pena visited a preschool class in Joliet today to call for expanding availability of preschool in Will County. Glasgow, Hayes and Pena joined State Senator A.J. Wilhelmi to read to preschoolers at St. John’s Center in Joliet.
The law enforcement leaders called on the General Assembly and Governor Blagojevich to expand funding for pre-kindergarten programs so all children have access. They pointed to evidence that preschool cuts future violent crime and saves money.
“As a prosecutor, I believe in being tough on violent criminals. But it’s just common sense to ensure our public safety by preventing crime early rather than paying more in lives and taxpayer dollars later,” Glasgow said. “If you care about crime prevention, if you care about saving money, and if you care about saving lives, than you must care about high-quality early education programs.”
Over the past five years, Illinois has made great strides in expanding preschool opportunities for families. With recent expansion of the Preschool for All Program, Will County has added over 800 slots for 3-and 4-year olds, increasing the number of children enrolled in state-funded preschool to 1,500.
Glasgow, Hayes and Pena cited Sen. Wilhelmi’s leadership in the General Assembly as one reason for the increased availability of preschool in Will County and across Illinois.
“Senator Wilhelmi knows that if we don’t invest now in proven programs for at risk kids, we will pay more later in the cost of crime,” Pena said.
Still, there are far too many families unable to access high quality programs because of cost. In Will County there remain more than 8,400 3- and 4-year-olds in families who cannot afford to pay for quality preschool on their own.
“We have to do more on the front end before kids get involved in crime. The research is compelling and clear. Early childhood is a crucial time when we form the core of conscience, develop the ability to trust and relate to others, and lay down the foundation for life-long learning and thinking,” Hayes said “Investing in quality preschool today is one of the best crime fighting tools we have.”
Law enforcement’s experience and rigorous research supports the value of pre-kindergarten. A study of the Perry Preschool in Michigan tracked at-risk children who attended the program and similar children left out until age 40. At age 27, those left out as children were five times more likely to have been arrested for drug felonies and twice as likely to have been arrested for violent crimes. Another study of the publicly funded Child-Parent Centers in Chicago, which have provided early care and education to more than 100,000 children since 1967, found that kids left out of the program were 70 percent more likely to have been arrested by age 18 than those who participated.
FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS ILLINOIS is the state office of a national, non-profit bipartisan, anti-crime organization of more than 3,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, leaders of law enforcement organizations, and victims of violence. It has over 200 members in Illinois.