By Jim Melwert
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (CBS) -- There was a show of support Wednesday morning for the expansion of "Pre-K" and early childhood education, as advocates were joined by the district attorneys from Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester Countries at the Double Tree Hotel in King of Prussia.
Among the speakers was Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan. He says studies show money can be spent on children now when they're young, or...
"Or they'll have to deal with me as a prosecutor later," Hogan says, "when they've taken the wrong steps in life, when they haven't had the right support and they're in the criminal justice system, and that's too late."
Hogan compares quality pre-K education to immunizations.
"When we're out with police, you will run into three or four-year-old kids that are in a family, and the police will say to you, based on their background, they're going to end up in the criminal justice system someday."
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says study after study shows one of the best ways to prevent crime is quality early childhood education.
"People don't expect DAs talking about early childhood education, like 'What are you a social worker?' I am the social worker of last resort," he says, "I am the prosecutor."
Williams says studies show $100 spent on pre-K education would, down the road, save $700 in prison costs.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman says early education is especially important for at-risk children.
"You're going to pay now or you're going to pay later," she says. "And as a prosecutor and being in law enforcement that's where the money goes. So we pay now or we pay later, but we have an obligation to make sure that we put kids on the best path in life."
Retired Major General Wesley Craig, the former adjutant general of the Pennsylvania National Guard, calls the lack of quality early-childhood education a tragedy and a national security concern. Citing a recent defense department statistics, Craig says 72-percent of Pennsylvanians between the ages of 17 and 24 years old do not meet the requirements to be in the military.
Governor Tom Wolf's budget proposes a $120-million expansion to pre-K in Pennsylvania.
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