In preschool classrooms, three and 4-year-olds are learning more than the alphabet....
"They have good structure, they have good role models, they're learning, they're interacting with other kids," said Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss.
They're also learning how to be productive citizens.
"We've really got to look at factors and issues related to crime, addiction and those kinds of things and not just what precipitated right before, but all the way back to these early developmental ages," added Langloss.
That's why officers in Lee County sat down with Republican State Representative Tom Demmer to figure out how to get more kids enrolled in these early education programs.
"This is a priority for the state, and this is a priority for the administration," said Demmer.
"By getting them into these programs, we're going to see significant reductions in crime down the road," said Langloss.
The Perry Preschool Study, a nationally recognized research project, says children who did not participate in early education programs are five times more likely to be arrested for drug felonies by the time they're 27.
"That's just staggering," said Langloss.
In 2015, 300 children enrolled in state-funded preschool programs in Lee and Ogle Counties, but officials say funding cuts have left 1,000 kids without access.
"I've arrested the grandparents, the parents, and some of the kids of the same families and we need to stop that cycle in somehow, someway," said Lee County Sheriff John Simonton.
State legislators are proposing a $50 million increase in early education block grant funding in the 2018 budget.