PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Law enforcement leaders in Polk County are making a case to expand pre-kindergarten education as a means to improve public safety.
They are calling on lawmakers to make preschool more attainable for more than 20,000 Oregon kids who can’t afford it.
They cite a report called “Oregon Kids Soar with Early Education Investment,” which says kids with access to pre-k learning are typically more advanced learners and are less likely to commit crimes as adults.
“The results show it — people who get support at the beginning don’t fail at the end,” Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton said. “And don’t need the kind of support that is the worst result, which is incarceration and law enforcement intervention, which is when I come in — we don’t want to do that we want to have the support at the beginning.”
Oregon state lawmakers recently added $75 million to early childhood education. With that, more than 5,000 kids statewide will be eligible to attend pre-k classes.
There are still four times that number of kids without access to preschool, which law enforcement officials want state lawmakers to keep in mind when they reconvene for legislative work next year.