Before he was York City's police chief, Wes Kahley was "a real cop, not just a pretty face," he told a crowd that included Gov. Tom Corbett and members of the county's state House and Senate delegation.

Watching York's crime and the criminals over the years, Kahley came to learn that arresting people won't solve the problem, he said. Preventative measures that start when people are young, including efforts such as early childhood education, are needed to target the people who could someday become criminals.

Such efforts are playing a key role in the fight against crime in York, he said, and they save taxpayers millions of dollars by keeping people from "turning to crime in the first place.

Governor Tom Corbett talks with Pre-K Counts student Taylor Halsey at Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center.
Governor Tom Corbett talks with Pre-K Counts student Taylor Halsey at Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center. (Bill Kalina)
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Kahley was one of three speakers Friday to praise the state's investment in the Rising STARS initiative, which targets resources to support quality early child care and learning, specifically for at-risk children.

Corbett and the legislators made an appearance at the city's Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center, which participates in the STARS program.

Corbett highlighted his proposed budget's $3 million initiative to fund Rising Stars.

"We must invest in early child care education that focuses on quality programs, encourages positive behaviors and helps children prepare for success in school," Corbett said. "Efforts to ensure higher quality standards in early childhood learning centers across the state will help our children grow into successful adults."

The governor toured a class before addressing the crowd of officials.

The Keystone STARS program is aimed at increasing the quality of child care programs throughout the state. Child care and Head Start programs that participate in Keystone STARS earn a STAR 1 to STAR 4 rating by meeting evidence-based standards for teacher quality, classroom environment, partnering with families, and solid business practices.

The Crispus Attucks has the highest rating, a 4.

The Department of Public Welfare launched the initiative in 2002 as a pilot program for more than 167,000 children at thousands of facilities statewide.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.