Kids ‘N Crime: Economic Aspects of Development and Prevention of Criminality among Children and Youth

David E. Park for Justice Institute of BC and the Vancouver Board of Trade
September 2010

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Investing in early childhood programs carries a big payback, B.C. report says
Vancouver Sun
September 13, 2010

VANCOUVER — Pay now, or pay much more later. That’s the word from the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Justice Institute of B.C., which released a joint report Monday saying that investing in early childhood development — particularly before age five – will save governments and society millions of dollars in the long run.

“The economic payback is spectacular,” report author David Park, research associate for the Justice Institute and economist emeritus for the board, told a news conference about the report. “There are great benefits in intervening.”

Park’s report, Kids ‘N Crime: Economic Aspects of Development and Prevention of Criminality among Children and Youth, looks at the economic benefits of positive early childhood intervention, concluding that it results in enhanced productivity, GDP growth, reduced crime and a reduced financial burden on health, justice and social programs needed throughout adult life.

The report finds, for example, that money invested in a preschool child results in a much bigger return down the road than dollars put in at a later stage. “A dollar invested in early childhood yields three times as much as for school-aged children, and eight times as much for adult education,” the report states, quoting research by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman.

The report says that the first five years are critical in determining whether a child will lead a positive life or become involved in crime. Positive intervention can include early home visitations by trained nurses, centre-based programs, and early detection and remedial treatment of learning disabilities….

Paul Kershaw, of the University of B.C.’s Human Early Learning Partnership, said the report affirms evidence that supporting families with young children before they even reach school is good for the economy, crime reduction and better health….

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