It was good to see coverage in the Daily Journal last week about a report that will soon be completed and delivered to the governor, commission to call for overhaul of early childhood education funding.

As a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, along with more than 330 other police chiefs, sheriffs, and state’s attorneys across the state, I have followed closely the work of the bipartisan Early Childhood Funding Commission over the last year.

The research is pretty clear that a focus on getting our youngest kids off to a strong start in life is not only good for those kids and their families — it benefits each and every one of us.

Unfortunately, the evidence is pretty compelling that we need to do a much better job in this area. Illinois kindergarten teachers’ assessments of their incoming students in important areas (such as social and emotional development, language and literacy, and early math), found that only 3 in 10 kindergartners were deemed prepared by their teachers. Here in Kankakee County it was only 1 in 10.

If we want safe communities and successful families, we can start with boosting our support for early childhood programs in next year’s Illinois State Board of Education budget and taking seriously the smart and critically important recommendations being made by the Early Childhood Funding Commission.

Jim Rowe

Kankakee County state’s attorney