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Op-Ed: Investing in Affordable Childcare Today Prevents Crime Tomorrow

Accessible and affordable childcare is not just a necessity for parents and families; it is essential to a functioning society. This opinion piece from the police chief in Springfield, Missouri, focuses on how affordable, high-quality early childhood education programs are the key to preventing future crime.

Take a look:

Early child care funding is an investment in public safety

The subject of rising crime has captured lots of attention nationwide the past several years. I’ve been Springfield’s chief of police for over a decade, and, needless to say, crime rates are a top-of-mind concern for myself and all law enforcement leaders. But crime prevention doesn’t begin weeks or days or moments before a crime is actually committed. It must start much, much earlier. In fact, we can take preventative action today that will help create a safer future for our state and our children.

The key is to give Missouri children the best possible start in life. People who get emotional, educational and physical support as young children are much less likely to end up in the criminal justice system as adults. As a 2021 report from the law enforcement membership group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids highlighted, a significant body of research shows that high-quality early childhood programs can lead to better outcomes for kids in school and life. These outcomes include higher rates of high-school graduation, higher earnings as an adult, and, most critically, lower rates of incarceration and drug use.

This tracks with what my fellow officers and I see in Springfield every day, and the same is true in every community in Missouri and beyond. The seeds of today’s crime were planted a long time ago. By the time a law enforcement officer places someone in handcuffs, it’s too late to reverse the damage completely. But it’s not too late for today’s kids.


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