"Shame on us that we're not taking care of vulnerable children. Shame on us," says K.P. Pelleran, State Director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan.
In 2005, about one in five kids, under the age of five, were living in poverty -- at-risk children, many of which could not afford to go to pre-school.
"Let's take care of the at-risk kids because we're going to be taking care of them at the tail end," Pelleran says. "That will cost us a lot more if we don't take care of them at the front end."
According to Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan, at-risk kids are 70 percent more likely to commit violent crimes if they aren't provided with early childhood education.
"They start very early on," explains Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth. "They don't have any skills. They've dropped out of school, and so their way of life is to commit crime."
On Monday, a group of community leaders and law enforcement officials met at the Kellogg Center to talk about the importance of investing in at-risk children -- through programs like Head Start and Great Start.
"There's the adult interaction that happens. It's a nurturing environment," says Ingham County Great Start Coordinator Michelle Nicholson. "They're exposed to lots of learning opportunities they might not get otherwise."
Currently the state, with the help of the federal government invests, $91 million dollars for preschool for at-risk four-year-olds. But that only covers about two-thirds of that demographic.
"You pay now or you pay later. It will cost money," says Rep. Joan Bauer, (D) Lansing. "In the long run it helps all of us. It helps our state. It will make it a better place to live and work in."
Adds Sheriff Wriggelsworth, "It's a cheap fix. It's an upfront fix that could take law enforcement out of the picture."