Nonprofit says early education cuts down on Illinois prison bill

Illinois is spending more money on at-risk kids

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Authorities went back to preschool Monday.

Not for themselves, but with the goal to keeping kids from growing up to be criminals.

Officers joined forces with legislators and a group called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

They went to the Skip-a-Long Child Development center in Rock Island to reinforce the importance of the state's preschool program.

Representatives of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, say if Illinois continues to invest in preschool programs, in the long run they'll save more than $900 million. 

They say early education introduces kids to social interactions and gives them a head start in education. 

It also decreases their chances of going to jail, by more than 50 percent by the age of 40. 

Currently the state spends about $1.4 billion a year on criminals, but legislators are working together to change that. 

Over the last three years, they've increased state funding to help more low income families afford preschool. 

More than 1,200 kids benefit from those funds in Rock Island County, but there's still a great need. 

"I see young people that come in to visit, family members in the county jail and then many years later may be part of that same system. this is really a great program to try and divert those kids from becoming part of our jail system," says Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos. 

The Fight Crime group says preschool programs will continue to see an increase of $50 million for the next two years. 

They encourage more families to take advantage of the programs. 
    
 


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