Mt. Sterling kiddos listen in via Cops & Tots

A Cops & Tots reading event took place virtually on Aug. 31. Cyndy Rees (top left), state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Ohio, provided an introduction. Madison County Sheriff John R. Swaney (bottom left) and Congressman Steve Stivers (bottom right) read “Peppa Pig: Safety First” while children at First United Methodist Church Childcare Center in Mount Sterling (top right) listened in.

(Posted Sept. 2, 2020)

On Aug. 31, Madison County Sheriff John R. Swaney and Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers participated in a virtual Cops & Tots childcare reading event with toddlers from the First United Methodist Church Childcare Center in Mount Sterling.  The purpose of the event was to highlight the importance of quality-rated childcare programs and their impact on young learners and working families.

The event is part of an ongoing series of statewide early learning reading events by law enforcement leaders who are members of “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Ohio.” The organization is comprised of more than 250 chiefs of police, sheriffs, prosecutors and victims of crime in Ohio, and more than 5,000 members nationally.

Research has consistently shown that children can reap powerful benefits from high-quality early childhood education. For example, a study of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers examined school readiness programs provided to preschoolers from some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. The study showed that children who did not receive quality early learning programs were 70 percent more likely to have been arrested for a violent crime by age 18. By age 24, the now-young adults who were in the Child-Parent Center program as children were 20 percent less likely to have served time in jail.

Quality early learning programs also save money. An independent cost-benefit analysis of nearly 20 different studies showed that pre-kindergarten can, on average, return a “profit” (economic benefits minus cost) to society of nearly $27,000 for each child served.

“Quality childcare programs work with infants and toddlers to ensure they are meeting their developmental milestones,” said Sheriff Swaney.  “Working families need access to affordable quality childcare programs. Research shows early learning is critical to getting our children on the right track in life.”

Ohio has made progress on increasing quality options for childcare programming throughout the state. Elected officials have prioritized funding for early education in recent years, however COVID-19 has had a significant financial impact on childcare providers, straining the system and leaving many families without a safe learning environment for their infants and toddlers.

“As the son of a kindergarten teacher, I was fortunate to have a strong educational foundation at home, and we owe it to all children to make sure they get the same strong start,” Congressman Stivers said. “I’m proud to support investments in early childhood education in Congress and grateful to community partners like the Council for a Strong America and Sheriff Swaney who are committed to setting kids up for success.”

Swaney added, “Ohio’s children deserve the chance to start strong, so they can succeed in school and in life.”

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