State College officials this week recognized the importance of early childhood education and the vital role they said it plays in the community.
Borough Council on Monday declared it the Week of the Young Child in State College, and advocates at the council meeting said the community should strive to secure high quality education for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
“It’s about the money we put into quality Pre-K education for 3- and 4-year-olds,” said Police Chief Tom King.
King, who said he was commenting on behalf of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, of which he is president, said education for those ages has been shown to increase the changes of high school graduation and decrease the chances individuals will become involved in crime.
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“We know that when we put that money in the quality programs ... three things are likely to happen: They are persons likely to be less in need of special education services; the likelihood of graduation increases dramatically: and the likelihood a person is going to lead a life of crime drops significantly,” King said. “In crime prevention, the best tool we have is to put money into quality Pre-K education.”
Yet, advocates at the Borough Council meeting Monday said only one in six children in the state has access to high-quality educational programs for those age groups.
Heather Kimble, the assistant director of the Child Care Center at Hort Woods, said she has seen firsthand what a difference early education can make.
“I’ve been in the field for 14 years, but I’ve been a mother for six,” Kimble said. “My daughter had high quality Pre-K (classes) at one of the university child care centers. The opportunity undoubtedly prepared her emotionally, socially and cognitively for her journey and it’s a strong support system for families as well.”
Kimble joined King in his assessment of the savings that can be reaped.
“Every dollar spend saves seven dollars in special education costs, public assistance, corrections and taxes,” she said. “It works. It benefits students and families and strengthens schools.”
Council moved quickly to adopt the proclamation.
“It couldn’t be more important,” Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said.