By Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave, published as an Opinion Editorial in Foster’s and Seacoastonline.
When I ran for sheriff of Strafford County, I promised to focus on officer training and education, because preemptive attention to professional development for our law enforcement officers makes them more successful. In much the same way, preparing children for their lives before them can create better outcomes. As a father of three, I am motivated by that reality every day.
That’s why it’s my great hope in this new year that our country can enact significant child care
and early education improvements in our nation’s capital. Congress is considering investments in child care that could provide critical support for New Hampshire families.
The measures being considered could make child care/early education more affordable and more available and provide a Child Tax Credit (CTC). Shortly after being elected sheriff, I became a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, an organization I’ve long admired. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids elevates the voices of law enforcement leaders advocating for early care and education and other evidence-based policies that can improve kids’ lives.
Quality early care helps set young people on a positive life trajectory. Decades of research has shown that children who receive quality early care and education tend to perform better in school, experience fewer behavioral issues, become more likely to graduate from high school, and are less likely to become tangled in crime or be incarcerated than children who do not get those services.
That’s why I am extremely hopeful that strong investments can be made in child care.
These investments will help solve tremendous challenges in our community, state, and nation. We have a child care crisis in the United States. Many families can’t afford the costs of such care. Many people can’t return to work because child care is too costly or completely unavailable. At the same time, providers can’t afford to pay employees a strong enough wage to attract and retain the workers they need.
Quality child care helps close achievement gaps and strengthens early cognitive and behavioral skills. Stronger investments in early childhood would help give the parents of many children the support they need to go back to work. That lack of investment is a major problem, as a 2019 report showed the child care crisis costs our economy $57 billion each year in lost productivity, revenue, and earnings--and that’s just for infants and toddlers. In New Hampshire alone, that figure is estimated at $233 million lost every year.
Meanwhile, cutting child poverty is key to ensuring more children do well in school and graduate from high school. There’s a research-established link between poverty and low educational attainment. Reducing child poverty will ensure that more children get to a successful, crime-free adulthood. The CTC is one of the strongest proven tools to help low-income families escape poverty. It’s critical to these families that Congress extend the CTC’s recent expansion.
These initiatives would help improve long-term public safety while empowering our young people. These are opportunities that, for the sake of our children, I hope we seize.
About the Author:
Mark was elected Sheriff of Strafford County in 2020. He believes in reducing barriers between the public and law enforcement and in the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect. One of his goals is to bridge the gap between the social service world and law enforcement. This objective includes recruiting deputies with backgrounds in education, social services, and mental health. Mark holds both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University. He completed an internship at Rikers Island and credits this and his mentors for choosing a career in law enforcement. He and his wife, Jamie Brave, have three children.