Voice of the Reader: Head Start expansion is good
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Voice of the Reader: Head Start expansion is good

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To the Editor:

I am thrilled to see the expansion of the federally-funded Early Head Start in my home county. With more than 60% of our Alexander County children struggling with poverty, more high-quality child development services are critically needed. These programs not only help prepare young kids for success in school, but in life as well. As a retired U.S. Army major general, I view that as a national security imperative.

I belong to a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization comprised of over 750 retired admirals and generals nationwide, called Mission: Readiness. Here in Illinois, our gravest concern is that 70% of Illinoisans between the ages of 17 and 24 cannot qualify for military service, chiefly because they are too overweight or too poorly educated. Head Start is a worthy investment in helping to solve these problems.

There is overwhelming evidence that high-quality early childhood education and care can help children realize improved long-term educational outcomes. In addition, two randomized studies of nutrition programs in Chicago Head Start centers found that participating children had a lower risk of obesity two years later than children in the control group.

Everyone should at least have the option of joining the military, pursuing a civilian career, or going to college – whatever they want to do in life. Programs like Early Head Start, preschool, and high-quality child care help secure such options. To further boost the odds of success for all children, our state lawmakers should also prioritize expanded investments in our young children.

Johnny Miller

Tamms

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