In reading the Sept. 20 article, “DeWine, Cordray trade attacks over opioids in pointed debated,” I was disappointed to see little attention paid to the opioid epidemic’s youngest victims — children of addicted parents — during the debate.
However, both Democrat Rich Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine have plans to address the needs of Ohio’s young children and I applaud them for doing so.
A recent report from Groundwork Ohio, called From the Ground Up: Unearthing Fairness for Ohio Kids, is very disturbing. It found that children who start behind, usually stay behind. The report emphasizes why it is so important to reach children early in life with high-quality child care, early childhood education, and voluntary home visiting programs for at-risk mothers. These programs benefit all Ohio children, but they are especially important for children and families impacted by the opioid epidemic.
For example, kindergarten readiness predicts third grade reading achievement, which, in turn, predicts eighth grade math achievement. Eighth grade math achievement predicts high school graduation. Economists have studied the relationship over time between changes in graduation rates and crime. They concluded that a 10 percentage-point increase in graduation rates reduces murder and assault rates by about 20 percent.
You may wonder why the chief of police is so concerned about children’s issues.
Simply put, I want to see fewer future criminals and drug abusers, and one of the best ways to do that is to ensure that children and families have the access to high-quality child care, early education, and health care services. While we have several high-quality options for these programs in Logan County, the need for such services is growing.
The best news? I am not alone in this thinking. In a recent poll, a full 82 percent of all Ohio voters express strong support for state funding for quality early education programs for kids, making this a uniquely bipartisan issue.
Our next governor must follow the evidence and invest where it matters the most for our kids, taxpayers, and Ohio’s future.
Chief of Police, Bellefontaine Past president, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (www.oacp.org) and member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids www.fightcrime.org