I agree completely with the Dec 26 guest column by Thomas College President Laurie Lachance that Maine needs to improve its early childhood education system for very important health and economic reasons. As Lachance stated, high-quality early education prior to kindergarten helps narrow the “achievement gap” between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers, reduces health care costs by improving lifelong health outcomes, boosts later earnings, and provides a high rate of economic return.

As Augusta’s police chief, I’d like to add that it is also clear that high-quality early learning can make our communities safer by helping to reduce crime. Research supports what we in the law enforcement community already know to be true: Kids who participate in high-quality early learning programs are more likely to stay in school, graduate from high school on time and avoid a life of crime. I recently had the opportunity to tour Augusta’s Head Start program at the Magic Years Early Learning Center, and the positive impact the program is already having on the children was abundantly clear.

Making sure more Maine kids have a strong start through high-quality early childhood education is absolutely worth the investment. The resulting improvements will lead to safer communities with more successful kids and adults here in our great state.

I hope the governor and Legislature take action to expand high-quality early childhood education.

Jared Mills

chief of police


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