Day Care Linked With Less Crime

WASHINGTON, April 28 -- Ground-breaking research shows that the failure to assure families access to child care is multiplying the number of children growing up to be violent, according to a new report presented to the White House and members of Congress today.

The good news according to the report is that government action to expand access to quality child development programs can greatly reduce youth violence. The report is called America's Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy. It was prepared by an expert panel convened by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, an anti-crime group of over 700 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, victims of violence, and youth violence experts. The authors are pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton of Harvard; Yale child development expert Edward Zigler; University of Pennsylvania criminologist Lawrence Sherman; two former police chiefs, William Bratton of New York and Jerry Sanders of San Diego, each of whom achieved record crime reductions in their cities; and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids president Sanford Newman, and research director William Christeson.

Dr. Brazelton, a well-known pediatrician and the author of a number of books on child development, emphasized that "rigorous scientific research now proves the early childhood development programs that help kids in so many other ways are also our most powerful weapons in the fight against youth violence."

Major Studies Greatly Strengthen Link Between Day Care and Less Crime

Three major new studies of thousands of children show that early childhood development programs can achieve extraordinary reductions in behavior problems, crime and violence:

  • A large 14-year study followed over 1,000 children enrolled in government-funded Child-Parent Centers at ages 3 and 4. Compared to children left out of the program, the CPC children were only half as likely to have two or more arrests in their teens. The program has served 100,000 youngsters at 24 centers over the last 23 years.
  • A North Carolina study shows that when the state's Smart Start program bolstered child care quality in some centers, those children were half as likely as similar kids to have serious behavioral problems when they reached kindergarten.
  • A further large national study of existing child care centers shows that at-risk kids who attend high-quality child care programs as babies and preschoolers have no more behavior problems at age eight than children of college-educated parents.