I was heartened to see this week’s feature on Lewis County’s successful Head Start Program (“Lewis County Head Start Program Teaches Life Skills to Pre-K Children and Families.”) As the Centralia Police Chief, it’s of utmost importance to me that our children get the strong starts they need to succeed in life.
The rapid brain development that occurs in the years from birth to age five has lasting impacts on the wellbeing of our kids and our community. Research tells us that kids who attend high-quality early-learning programs during these years show up to kindergarten ready to succeed. What’s more, as this article showed, quality early-learning classrooms like Head Start provide a vital space for kids to develop social-emotional skills that helps them get along well with others and that better prepares them for succeeding in school. That matters to law enforcement because kids who do better in school are more likely to stay in school, graduate on time and avoid a life of crime.
We are grateful that Lewis County is able to serve 182 students with its Head Start funding, and we’re grateful that Congress increased Head Start funding in a bill passed earlier this year. That’s thanks in part to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler who has supported investments who has supported investments in early childhood programs from her position on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees this funding.
We urge our lawmakers to continue to prioritize investments in high-quality early childhood programs like Head Start. When families receive the tools they need to raise healthy and safe kids, we all benefit from healthier, safer communities. That’s a public safety outcome my officers and I cannot ensure on our own.
Chief Carl Nielsen