Like your May 27 editorial, I also support L.D. 1712, a bill to expand high-quality child care in Maine (“Our View: Maine should invest in early childhood programs“).

My reason for supporting this proposal may be unexpected. But I know from my career in law enforcement, and from research, that the high-quality early learning that takes place in child care settings every day helps us keep our communities safe and reduces later crime.

A study of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers reflects these facts. These centers provided school readiness programs to preschoolers from some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, some of whom were then followed over the course of 30 years. The study examined outcomes for this subgroup of children, compared to a peer group not enrolled in the centers. The study showed that kids who did not receive high-quality early learning programs were 70% more likely to have been arrested for a violent crime by age 18. By age 24, those who were in the Child-Parent Center program as children were 20% less likely to have served time in jail.

In addition, high-quality early learning programs save money. A well-respected, independent cost-benefit analysis of nearly 20 different studies showed that pre-K can, on average, return a “profit” (economic benefits minus cost) to society of nearly $27,000 for every child served.

I believe L.D. 1712 will put high-quality child care programs in place in more Maine communities, and that these programs will contribute to similar outcomes. I encourage all legislators to support it in the closing weeks of this legislative session.

Chief Jared Mills

Augusta Police Department

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