The same Chicago study found that high-quality programs can provide a return on investment for taxpayers, nearly $11 in benefits for every $1 dollar invested. Of the $11 in benefits, $5 results from lower costs for crime and corrections
“For NOBLE our focus is on our children because if you invest in them at an early age, you don’t have to deal with them later on,” Bryant said. “Policy makers, the people who designate where dollars go, need to realize the importance of investing at an early age in the success of children. If you really want to change things, you have to make an investment.”
Locally, the report found that in Pennsylvania, the percentage of kids in the Pre-K Counts Public-Private Partnership program with developmental delays dropped by more than 60 percent from the time of entry to program completion. The number of 3-year-old children with conduct or self-control problems fell by more than 80 percent.
“In order to change negative behavior, you have to reach them earlier,” Bryant said. “With the whole neighborhood thing (in Pittsburgh), we’re kind of separated to where you can’t venture into this neighborhood because of this or that, but in a school setting kids learn to get along. They learn to play together and get along so if you can instill something early on, it makes a difference.”
The findings of the studies illustrated in the report mirror research that shows 60 percent of children with high levels of disruptive, aggressive behaviors in early childhood will manifest high levels of antisocial and delinquent behavior later in life.
“If you’ve never learned the basic rules and how to socialize with other people, you just are going through the motions,” Bryant said. “The chances of you not doing well in school or dropping out or being involved in a life of crime, that’s what you fall into. When you don’t fit in, you look for other people who don’t fit in.”