Early Care and Education

Law enforcement leaders recognize that early childhood education programs are among the most powerful weapons to prevent crime and violence.

While these programs go by many different names and vary in their focus, Head Start, child care, pre-kindergarten and early education programs can all offer high-quality learning environments that prepare kids for school and help them avoid a life of crime.

For more information on our state-specific work, please visit our state pages.

Head Start and Early Head Start:

Head Start is the nation’s premier school readiness program for children in poverty. Since 1965, it has provided voluntary, comprehensive education, social and emotional development and physical and mental health services for three- and four-year-olds, as well as parent involvement efforts. Early Head Start was created in 1994 to provide comprehensive child development and family strengthening services for babies and toddlers (birth to age three).

Research shows that at-risk children left out of quality pre-kindergarten are five times more likely to grow up to become criminals by age 27 than comparable children in quality pre-kindergarten. Unfortunately, Head Start is so under-funded that it can only serve about half of eligible, poor three- and four-year-olds. Early Head Start serves less than five percent of the eligible infants and toddlers.

Lovick Pull QuoteThe American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided a temporary infusion of $2.1 billion total in FY 2009 and FY 2010 for Head Start and Early Head Start, creating 64,000 new slots, and Congress provided $7.235 billion in funding for FY 2010. President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget Request proposes an increase of $864 million over FY 2010 to continue serving kids in the 64,000 new slots created by ARRA funding.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids will continue to work with Congress to achieve funding levels that will allow more at-risk children to access high-quality pre-k.

Head Start Fact Sheet

Child Care Assistance:

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) helps working families pay for quality early care and education and after-school activities for their kids. A study of Chicago’s government-funded Child Parent Centers showed that comparable children left out of this high-quality early care and education program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. Unfortunately, only one in six eligible kids is benefiting from CCDBG help for their families to pay for child care.

CCDBG includes two funding streams: one is “mandatory”, which means authorizing legislation sets the funding level for as many years as the authorizing legislation determines (typically, three to five years); the other is “discretionary,” which means Congress determines the funding level every year through the appropriations process.

CCDBG provided a little over $5 billion to states in FY 2010. However, there remains significant unmet need, with only approximately 1 in 6 eligible children receiving benefit of the subsidies, and overall funding has not kept pace with inflation. President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget Request proposes increases of $800 million over FY 2010 in discretionary funding and $500 million over FY 2010 in mandatory funding.


The Early Learning Challenge Fund:

President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget Request proposes $350 million for a new Early Learning Challenge Fund. This funding would support competitive grants to incentivize states to expand and increase the quality of early learning programs for young children, birth to age 5. It would help increase the number of low-income children that enter kindergarten prepared to succeed by reforming state standards and practices for birth-to-five early learning programs. The Fund will be used for the establishment of competitive grants that will incentivize states to make improvements in the quality and accessibility to their early learning systems.