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Possible $240M return if preschool proposal becomes law

New economic analysis from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids shows powerful returns on investments through early childhood measures

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News from Strong Nation

MONTANA — A new Fight Crime: Invest in Kids research report makes a compelling case that recent Congressional preschool investment proposals could provide a strong, long-term, net return on investment (ROI). Montana, for example, could reap an ROI of $240 million if federal early childhood education measures become law. 

The report, Preschool Key to Boosting School Success and Enhancing Public Safety, noted that the proposal would allow 16,000 more children to attend preschool in Montana alone. Each one of those children represents a lifetime return on investment of slightly over $15,000, leading to the state’s $240 million ROI. Nationwide, six million additional children would be able to attend preschool as a result of this expansion, with a long-term return on investment of $90 billion. 

“I truly hope our nation grabs this opportunity to make these overdue investments. This data shows the funds we invest now will be returned in lower societal costs,” said Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton, a Fight Crime: Invest in Kids member. “It’s a win-win, and it’s good government policy, it’s good community policy, it’s good old-fashioned police work.”

The research brief highlights an independent cost-benefit analysis that found an average per-child societal “profit” of more than $15,000 — and applies it to the additional children served by the preschool provisions.

This ROI comes via several factors, including increased test scores, which are associated with higher earnings in adulthood, as well as decreases in costs to society, such as expenses created by children being held back in school or needing special education.

Decades of research show that the experiences children have in their earliest years, during a period of critical brain growth, set the foundation for future development and success. Voluntary, quality preschool education can improve academic performance — including high school graduation — and reduce the risk that participants will become involved in crime later. 

Children who attend high-quality preschool are more likely to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn, with enhanced early math, language, and literacy skills. They’re also less likely to be held back in school or to need special education, and more likely to be proficient in reading and math. Preschool participants have an increased probability of graduating from high school. Students who participate in high-quality preschool are also less likely to have behavioral infractions in elementary and middle school and to be suspended from high school. 

Founded in 1996, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is a membership organization of thousands of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors who protect public safety by promoting solutions that steer kids away from crime.

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