Illinois Law Enforcement Leaders: Preschool Funding Cuts Shortchange Our Fiscal Future by Hundreds of Millions of Dollars
Sheriffs, police chiefs and state’s attorneys say erosion of state preschool a public safety risk
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SPRINGFIELD (April 26, 2012) — Law enforcement leaders from across Illinois urged state lawmakers to reject any further cuts to Illinois’ state preschool program in a news conference at the Statehouse on Thursday and on a conference call with members of the media.
The steady erosion of funding for Illinois’ Preschool for All initiative over the past three years has cut 17,600 kids from state preschool in the past several years. The law enforcement leaders released a new research brief that detailed these cuts county-by-county and found that cutting the state preschool program costs the state far more than it saves, especially in crime costs.
Madison County State’s Attorney Thomas Gibbons, Union County State’s Attorney Tyler Edmonds, Morgan County Sheriff Randy Duvendack, Bartonville Police Chief Brian Fengel, Peorria Heights Chief Dustin Sutton, and Channahon Director of Public Safety Joe Pena urged the Illinois General Assembly to accept Governor Quinn’s proposal to reverse a portion of the funding cuts in the FY 2013 state budget.
Other law enforcement leaders reinforced this position on a conference call. Participating in the teleconference were Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, Algonquin Police Chief Russ Laine, Rock Island Police Chief Scott Harris and Granite City Police Chief Rich Miller urged the Illinois General Assembly to accept Governor Quinn’s proposal.
Budget cuts have virtually eliminated state-funded preschool in some counties, including Calhoun County, which no longer has any state-funded preschool classrooms. For the first time more than a decade, the state of Illinois will not provide support for state-funded preschool classrooms in all 102 counties. In other counties, preschool providers have been forced to deny thousands of children the chance to participate.
The new research brief released today also suggests that instead of improving the state’s fiscal condition, the loss of 17,600 children from the program will result in lifetime future costs of $200 million to the state for this group of children. That amount is more than three times greater than the $55 million the state saved by cutting the program over the past three years. These expenses are incurred because at-risk children denied preschool now are less likely to be successful in school, earn less as adults, contribute less in taxes, and are more likely to engage in crime.
Since new three and four-year-olds reach preschool-age every year, the lifetime costs will continue to accumulate for each new group of 17,000 children denied access to preschool.
The law enforcement leaders asserted that preschool is an early opportunity to prevent crime and costly incarceration. A long-term study of the high-quality Perry Preschool in Michigan found that by age 27, at-risk kids who did not attend the program were five times more likely to grow up to be chronic law-breakers than those enrolled in the program. A study of Chicago’s Child-Parent Centers found that the high-risk individuals who had not participated in the program were 24 percent more likely to have been incarcerated by age 24 than the participants.
The state preschool program, known as Preschool for All, has been cut by $55 million in the Illinois State Board of Education budget over the past three years. The impact has been widespread:
• In just the last two years, 38 counties faced cuts to preschool of 20 percent or greater.
• In that same time period, 54 counties have lost at least two classrooms of preschoolers (40 kids) and 26 counties have cut more than 100 children from preschool.
• Two counties have seen state preschool virtually disappear with a 97 percent cut in Effingham County and an 89 percent cut in Massac County.
• Calhoun County saw a complete elimination of state-funded preschool with a loss of 80 funded slots.
• The Chicago Metropolitan Area (Cook, DuPage, Will, Kane, Lake and McHenry Counties) alone has seen a loss of 7,000 children from state-funded preschool.
The law enforcement leaders are members of FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS, a national anti-crime organization of over 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, other law enforcement leaders and violence survivors. There are more than 300 members in Illinois.
SPECIAL ONLINE CONTENT: Read county-by-county breakdown of preschool cuts and local news releases with statements from law enforcement across the state.
Localized Press Releases and Data
|Central Illinois Release|
|Eastern Illinois Release|
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinoisis a bipartisan, non-profit, anti-crime organization led by over 300 police chiefs, sheriffs, states attorneys, leaders of police officer organizations and crime victims. Its mission is to take a critical look at the research about what really works to keep kids from becoming criminals. www.fightcrime.org/il