I was pleased to read the recent guest editorial by a business leader speaking about how investing in high-quality early education supports Maine’s workforce development. As sheriff, I also know high-quality early learning programs are one of our most consistently proven solutions to prepare kids for success in school, which makes them far less likely to drop out and become involved in crime.

You don’t just have to take my word for it. According to a Fight Crime: Invest in Kids report, children left out of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers high-quality preschool program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for violent crime by age 18 than non-participating children. Another study found that children who did not participate in the high-quality Perry Preschool were five times more likely to be chronic lawbreakers by age 27 than those who did participate.

When it comes to what works for early learning programs, quality is everything. After a lot of good work by the Maine Department of Education and the legislature last year, Maine’s Public Preschool Programs now meet all 10 quality benchmarks that have been developed by researchers as necessary for children to get the most out of their preschool experience. Maine Head Start programs also rank high on our quality rating scale. We need to move all child care programs to their highest possible quality as well.

As Mr. Gilman wrote, high-quality early education programs are proven ways to strengthen Maine’s workforce. The same can be said for improving the public safety of our communities.

Sheriff Kevin Joyce

Cumberland County