GREENVILLE — State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) and Darke County Sheriff Toby Spencer visited with and talked to the preschool students at the Kids Learning Place in Greenville on Friday morning.
The purpose of the event was to highlight the importance of quality-rated childcare programs and their impact on young learners.
Rep. Powell, who supported historic investments in early care and education in her first state budget, received the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Ohio Champion for Children Award at the event from Sheriff Spencer.
Each read a book to pre-schoolers in a different classroom, then gathered where the award was presented.
Spencer read “Going On A Bear Hunt,” and Powell read her book after getting her listeners warmed up for it by doing various exercises, including “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”
The event is part of an ongoing series of statewide early learning reading events by law enforcement leaders who are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Ohio (FCIK). The organization is comprised of more than 200 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and victims of crime in Ohio with more than 5,000 members nationally.
Research has consistently shown children can reap powerful benefits from high-quality early childhood education. For example, a study of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers examined school readiness programs provided to preschoolers from some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. The study showed that young students who did not receive quality early learning programs were 70 percent more likely to have been arrested for a violent crime by age 18. By age 24, the now young adults who were in the Child-Parent Center program as children were 20 percent less likely to have served time in jail.
Quality early learning programs also 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.
“Investing in our children when they are young is the proactive approach to crime prevention,” said Spencer. “Early learning opportunities give at-risk children the tools needed to succeed in school and life.”
Fortunately, Ohio has made significant and historic progress on increasing quality options for voluntary pre-K programming throughout the state. Elected officials have prioritized funding for early education in recent years. Research shows increased access to quality pre-K is a wise investment with a great return for Ohio’s children at what is a critical time in their development.
“We appreciate the significant early care and education investments Governor DeWine and the legislature have made for Ohio’s children,” Spencer concluded. “We appreciate Rep. Powell’s strong support for these investments in the state budget and are pleased to present her with the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Ohio Champion for Kids Award. Our children deserve the chance to start strong, so they can succeed in school and in life.”
Also on hand for the event was Cyndy Rees, consultant, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Ohio. Not only did she arrive with the plaque, she praised Powell for her efforts in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget.
Contact Staff Writer Linda Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (937)569-4315 ext. 1749. Read more news, features and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.