“Building Safe Communities through Early Childhood Investments” was the keynote address presented by New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David at a luncheon sponsored by Council for Children’s Rights and Smart Start of Mecklenburg County on Monday, July 21st at the Mecklenburg County Government Center. Mr. David spoke to an audience composed of judges, law enforcement officials and other non-profit professionals who work with children in our community.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chipp Bailey served as host. Introducing the keynote address, Sheriff Bailey emphasized the commitment of local law enforcement to programs that focus on children. “We strongly believe that the best strategy to reduce crime is early childhood prevention,” he said.
Distrist Attorney David shared statistics and success stories that are the result of concerted efforts his office is making in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, schools, and other concerned groups. “We need to think about these children long before they ‘have a right to remain silent’” he said. In sharing what they have learned, he emphasized the importance of community buy-in and participation, the use of national best practices as models for local projects, more focus on the 0 – 5 age category and pre-K programs, and more support for the “people who are raising the children.”
Other speakers included Susan Campbell, Executive Director of Council for Children’s Rights, Jane Meyer, Executive Director of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, Lee Henderson, Senior Program Manager of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, and Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield.
The event was part of the First 2000 Days statewide campaign, an initiative to raise awareness about how children’s earliest years have a lasting impact on later learning, health and success. Attendees were encouraged to sign a pledge to promote the First 2000 Days message and support public investments in early childhood initiatives. Evidence indicates that investments early in a child’s life can help to reduce the high cost of correctional programs later.