As a law enforcement leader, I firmly believe in helping our community’s youth get a solid start in life and I also believe in providing children with the necessary tools for building a solid foundation upon which their later success and learning is built.

Superintendent David Theoharides recently provided me and State Representative Martin Grohman with a tour of the “almost completed” Sanford Regional Technical Center. The superintendent’s enthusiasm for this project overflowed with excitement. He spoke enthusiastically about all the programs. I was particularly impressed with the pre-kindergarten program and the state of the art facility where parents may observe the children at play and in their learning environment.

I am excited to hear of Sanford’s decision to expand their pre-kindergarten program to serve 34 more children, allowing nearly 100 kids in their community to access this quality early learning program that will help them get a leg up in life.

These programs aren’t just a win for kids — they have a real impact on our communities by helping to reduce future crime. Early education helps kids develop the academic, emotional and social skills they need to do well in early grades of school. When a child shows up to kindergarten ready to succeed, he or she is more likely to continue to do well, stay in school, graduate on time, and seek out positive life opportunities as opposed to a life of crime.

Research shows this is especially true for at-risk kids. According to a 40-year study of kids who participated in a high-quality pre-school program in Michigan, the children who did not participate were five times more likely to have committed crimes – and be chronic offenders – by the time they reached their late twenties.

Early education programs like pre-K are great investments in our communities and our children’s futures. By reducing crime, they even result in cost savings in our criminal justice system. For these reasons and many more, they have my full support.

William L. King, Jr.

York County Sheriff