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Cops and Kids Come Together for Better Pre-K

April 26, 2011

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. - Police chiefs in central New York are calling for quality pre-K programs and a rating system to separate the good ones from the not-so-good. At a child care center in the Syracuse suburb of Liverpool, the top cops of Syracuse and nearby Baldwinsville will read stories to kids and send a message to policymakers.

They want support for QualitystarsNY, a planned rating system that Baldwinsville Chief Michael Lefancheck says is overdue.

"New York is somewhat behind the ball in that regard. Nearly half the states in the country do have a quality rating improvement system."

A new report will be released showing early care and education programs help kids get the right start in life, and avoid future crime, but the programs must be of high quality for that work. The event is part of a month-long nationwide campaign.

Beth Pastel, whose child care center is hosting the event, says her facility is nationally accredited, but a statewide rating system would be much more helpful to parents.

"You know, usually when parents are looking for child care, they find things by convenience. But this will help put it to a rating scale, based on five stars, similar to motels, hotels, restaurants, all this, in a system most people are aware of. And it can put child care right there."

Chief Lefancheck says in addition to advocating for the QualitystarsNY system, he'll be one of the those reading to kids. He says he loves visiting pre-K children.

"The kids really get excited when someone in uniform comes in to speak to them. They have a lot of questions and it's very enjoyable for us, and hopefully the kids get as much out of it as we do."

Beth Pastel suggests - tongue in cheek - that visiting police have a tough act to follow.

"The county sheriffs landed their helicopter on our playground once and that was just such an event here. We loved having that. It's important for the children just to have the education of who's in their community, whether it be police officers, firefighters."

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler is also scheduled to participate.


Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY