A national anti-crime organization is calling on state lawmakers to supply the money to allow more Iowa kids to go to pre-school. Des Moines Police Chief William McCarthy is part of the effort by “Fight Crime Invest in Kids.” McCarthy says law enforcement leaders are united in their call that cuts in pre-kindergarten programs will lead to increases in crime. He says it’s key that the state include accessibility and affordability as part of its pre-school programs.
McCarthy says various studies show the positive link between pre-school and fighting crime. He says the group “Fight Crime Invest in Kids” projects that if every Iowa four-year-old had access to pre-school programs they could prevent 400 kids from committing violent crimes when they enter their teen years.
Amy Dawson is vice president of the group and says pre-school teaches kids important rules about social interaction. She says the difference between a kid starting kindergarten ready to read and learn, versus a kid who needs to learn how to interact with others, “is striking.” Dawson says kids who haven’t gone to pre-school not only start out behind, they slow down the whole class.
Dawson says it winds up having a huge impact on even the kids are ready to go, as the kids who aren’t ready disrupt the class and she says “it winds up pulling everybody down.” McCarthy says there are thousands of kids who have both parents working, or just one parent and he says pre-school gives the kids something they aren’t getting at home.
He says, “You’re really talking about a supportive parental role. without that intervention the kids are really adrift. And they are at a definite disadvantage when they start school to try to compete. In fact, it doesn’t happen.” McCarthy says they’re encouraging the legislature to go ahead with a plan by the governor to put 15-million dollars into early childhood education.