Law enforcement leaders say early learning programs can cut crime

<p>Reading to Children</p>

Reading to Children

Law enforcement leaders in Benton County gather in Richland today to talk about the importance of early learning programs for young children.

The police chiefs from Kennewick and Richland, the Benton County Prosecutor and the Benton County Sheriff read to children this morning at Benton Franklin Head Start.

The local leaders say increased student involvement in high-quality early learning programs cuts crimes and lowers corrections costs, as the programs give children a better chance to succeed in life.

They say Washington state invests thirty cents in early learning for every dollar spent on locking up criminals, and they're asking policy makers to change that.

"I'm very blessed, and I have the opportunity to invest in my child's early education. Not every family is afforded that same opportunity. So we need to create a mechanism by which families can take advantage of quality early learning opportunities to make sure those kids get excited about school, stay in school, and they have a better chance of being successful later on" said Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner.

Washington state provides early learning opportunities through Head Start and the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.

But only half of the low-income children eligible for those programs are receiving their services due to insufficient funding.