When I headed the state’s Department of Youth Services, I often lamented how late we were in trying to reach the youthful offenders in our charge. How much better it would have been to give them and their families the support they needed long before they landed in the juvenile justice system. How much better it would have been to focus on prevention as the best intervention.
Indeed, researchers find that young children who participate in high-quality preschools are substantially less likely to be arrested years later. Inspired by these and other studies on the benefits of high-quality early education, I moved upstream. I now direct a citywide initiative, led by Mayor Menino and United Way, to ensure that children start school prepared to succeed.
The waiting list for early education and care that Akilah Johnson describes in her article “Freeze on state aid leaves parents longing, preschool seats empty” (Page A1, March 4) makes this goal much more difficult to achieve. Governor Patrick’s plan to eliminate the waiting list and invest in improving the quality of child care and early education puts the goal within reach.