Tara Williams, who heads the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children (MaineAEYC), recently authored an article on the importance of supporting childcare and early learning. Many in law enforcement agree that early learning programs and childcare are essential and should be treated as such.

First, many essential workers, including law-enforcement officers and corrections officers, need a trusted place for their own young children while they are at work, and to know their kids are being safely cared for so they can serve their communities well. The closure of some centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new challenge in finding the child care these parents need to be able to go to work with peace of mind.

Second, quality child care and early learning programs are good long-term crime prevention tools. Kids who participate in these programs, particularly at-risk kids, are more likely to get a strong healthy start in life that puts them on path to begin school ready to learn. That path includes educational success that can make them more likely to become productive, law-abiding adults.

Lastly, childcare centers are a literal safe haven for some children. Not every kid is safe at home, and the concern for child abuse and neglect is especially prevalent during stressful times like those created by the pandemic.

Childcare and early learning programs are more important than ever, but essential under any circumstances. Our lawmakers should support and prioritize them in a way that reflects that reality.

Joel Merry
Sagadahoc County Sheriff and member Fight Crime: Invest in Kids

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