Advocates gather in Capitol to push for state investment in early education

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On the heels of a new report showing widespread support among voters for state investment in preschool, advocates took to the Capitol Wednesday to illustrate the importance of high-quality early learning.

Young children from local early learning programs and parents with their children gathered in the Rotunda for BLOCK Fest®, an interactive exhibit developed in Idaho that demonstrates the importance of early learning through play. Rotating through stations featuring blocks of different sizes, children created patterns, built structures and told stories.

“Young children learn through play. They need hands-on experiences to develop the early math, literacy and social skills needed to excel later in life,” said Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. “Block play is just one example of the kinds of active learning experiences that should be a part of every early learning program.”

Idaho voters and parents recognize that these kinds of experiences are crucial for a child’s brain development, according to a report released last month by the public opinion research firm Moore Information and Idaho AEYC. Moore Information conducted a total of 509 interviews for the survey – 406 among a representative sample of registered voters statewide in Idaho, plus an oversample of 103 parents of children age 5 or younger. Nearly seven in ten of the voters and parents surveyed believe the state of Idaho should be doing more to ensure that children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best in school. Seventy-six percent of voters and 80% of parents said they support state investments in preschool.

“Idaho remains one of a handful of states that does not invest in preschool options for children 3 to 5 years old, and teachers statewide continue to see children entering kindergarten without the foundational skills they need to succeed,” Oppenheimer said. “We need quality, affordable, voluntary preschool options for Idaho families so that children can excel throughout school and throughout life.”

This is the fourth year that Idaho AEYC has hosted an Early Learning Legislative Day at the Capitol. The nonprofit was joined by Idaho Voices for Children, the Idaho Head Start Association, the Twiga Foundation, the Idaho Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Building Villages and the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ Read to Me program.

Survey finds strong support for state investment in early childhood education

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Idaho voters and parents believe the early years of life are important in a child’s brain development and that the state should be doing more to support preschool opportunities, according to a survey conducted by the public opinion research firm Moore Information for the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children.

Among parents of children ages 0 to 5, just over a third (36%) surveyed have children currently attending preschool outside the home and 57% say they are planning to send their children to preschool. Importantly, three in four parents of children age 0 to 5 say they would be “very” (53%) or “somewhat” (23%) likely to utilize a public preschool opportunity for their 3- to 5-year-old child if it were offered in their community.

Only 22% of voters surveyed rate the quality of preschool opportunities in Idaho for children ages 3 to 5 years old as “excellent” or “above average,” while 32% say these opportunities are only “average” and 24% say they are “below average” or “poor.” Just a third of Idaho voters and parents of young children believe that “most” preschool programs are affordable for a majority of Idaho families (31% among voters, 33% among parents).

Roughly 80% of voters and parents agree there are three key benefits that result from early childhood education:

  • Access to quality, affordable preschool options for Idaho families enhances their children’s educational performance.
  • Supporting quality, affordable preschool options for Idaho families is important to building the economy through a qualified and educated workforce.
  • State funding for preschool programs results in direct returns for our state and communities – the more we invest in preschool-age children, the more they give back later in life.

Given this, it’s not surprising that nearly seven in ten voters and parents surveyed (69% of each group) believe the state of Idaho should be doing more to ensure that children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best in school. Seventy-six percent of voters and 80% of parents support state investments in preschool. Further, that support is deep, in that a majority of parents and voters feel “strongly” in their support (53% of voters, 58% of parents). 

“It’s pretty clear from the research that early childhood education is important to Idaho voters and parents,” said Erik Iverson, President of Moore Information. “Idahoans believe that a quality preschool education is not only good for kids but also for the future of the state. And they want to see more done to make sure it’s accessible and affordable for Idaho families.”

Idaho is one of six states that does not invest in preschool options for families with children 3 to 5 years old. Idaho AEYC, Idaho Business for Education, Idaho Voices for Children, Head Start and other partners have joined in an effort to increase access to high-quality pre-K for all Idahoans.

"Experts know that the early years of a child's life are the most critical time for the developing brain,” said Idaho AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “Access to high-quality, affordable preschool options mean that our children are entering kindergarten more prepared to learn and excel. We wanted to find out what Idahoans’ feelings were on pre-K, and the results were astoundingly positive.”

Moore Information conducted a total of 509 interviews for the survey – 406 among a representative sample of registered voters statewide in Idaho, plus an oversample of 103 parents of children age 5 or younger. The live interviews were conducted April 27 to May 2, 2017, using both cell phone and landlines. The potential sampling error for the N=406 voter sample is +/-5% at the 95% confidence level and +/- 10% for the N=103 parent sample.

You're invited! Idaho AEYC and Moore Information to report on Idahoan opinions of state investment in preschool

What: The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, the public opinion research firm Moore Information and select early education advocates will present the results of a statewide poll and discuss interviews with Idaho voters, child care and preschool providers and parents of young children. The research provides insight into Idahoans’ views on state investment in preschool and the challenges many families face in their efforts to locate affordable, high-quality early learning programs.

Who: Beth Oppenheimer, Executive Director of Idaho AEYC
Erik Iverson, CEO of Moore Information

When: Wednesday, Jan. 10th, at 11 a.m.

Where: Idaho State Capitol, Room W-433
700 W. Jefferson St., Boise, ID 83702

Why: Idaho is one of six states that does not invest in preschool options for families with children 3 to 5 years old. Idaho AEYC, Idaho Business for Education, Idaho Voices for Children, Head Start and other partners have joined in an effort to increase access to high-quality pre-K for all Idahoans.

"Experts know that the early years of a child's life are the most critical time for the developing brain,” says Idaho AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “Access to high-quality, affordable preschool options mean that our children are entering kindergarten more prepared to learn and excel. We wanted to find out what Idahoans’ feelings were on pre-K, and the results were astoundingly positive.”

Note: A detailed press kit outlining the research will be available 5 minutes prior to the event. An open Q&A will occur after the presentation.

Contact: Martin Balben, Idaho AEYC Project Director
208-709-1921, mbalben@idahoaeyc.org

We are seeking presenters for our June conference!

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The 2018 Idaho AEYC Professional Development Institute is coming up June 1 and 2 in Boise. It will be an engaging, educational conference for child care professionals, teachers, providers and advocates for Idaho’s young children.

This year, the focus will be on emergent curriculum and the use of projects in the early childhood environment. We are seeking presenters who can help guide professionals to a better understanding of what emergent curriculum means across a range of ages – from infants to 8-year-olds.

Topics we are interested in exploring include:

  • What is an emergent curriculum/project approach?
  • How to set up the physical environment for emergent curriculum/projects.
  • How emergent curriculum/projects can be used alongside of Idaho’s Early Learning Standards.
  • Assessment and emergent curriculum.
  • Using loose parts as the backbone of the materials in your classroom/center.
  • Emergent curriculum with infants and/or children with special needs.
  • Literacy, math and/or STEAM and emergent curriculum.
  • Classroom management.
  • Planning for an emergent curriculum.
  • Using an emergent curriculum outdoors.

We invite you to submit a 75-minute workshop proposal for sessions in the afternoon on June 1 and any session on June 2, or a two-hour workshop proposal for sessions the morning of June 1. Deadline for submission is January 20.

As a token of our appreciation, presenters will receive complimentary registration the day you present. Co-presenters will receive a 50% discounted registration fee for that day.

Don’t forget to treat yourself this holiday season!

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An Idaho AEYC and NAEYC membership is a gift that keeps on giving: You will have access to an array of resources and event discounts all year long to help advance your professional development. And it will ALL make a difference in the lives of the children you work with.  

Here are some of the many benefits you will enjoy as a member:

  • Local and state advocacy and leadership opportunities.
  • Access to member-only grants in Idaho.
  • Discounts at state and regional conferences.
  • Free resume and job posts on Idaho AEYC’s online Idaho ECE Job Connection page.
  • Access to NAEYC digital resources, including ideas for implementing developmentally appropriate practices and fostering strong family engagement.
  • Discounted insurance offerings, including professional liability insurance.
  • A 20% discount on all orders from NAEYC’s online store, as well as access to exclusive member-only resource sales during the year.
  • Exclusive access to member-only sessions at NAEYC events and registration opportunities for member-only events, such as the Public Policy Forum in Washington, DC.

Report details burden of high child care costs

Idaho families frequently find themselves paying more in annual child care costs than they would for a year’s tuition at a state college, according to a new report by Child Care Aware of America. And in all regions of the United States, average fees for an infant in a child care center are more than the average amount that families spend on food and transportation combined.

The 2017 “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care” report, released this week, found that the average annual cost of child care for one Idaho infant can range from $6,500 for home-based care to nearly $7,400 for center-based care. And for two children – an infant and a 4-year-old, as an example – those costs can exceed $13,900 annually. As a point of comparison, the average year’s tuition at a state college is $6,800. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deems child care “affordable” at or below 7% of household income. In Idaho, married parents pay 10.7% of income for center-based infant care, and those costs jump to 33.1% of income for single parents. Married parents at the poverty line can see between 62% and 70% of their income going toward child care fees.

“A state preschool system could help alleviate some of the financial burden of child care for families, but Idaho does not offer state-funded preschool programs for 3- to 5-year-olds,” said Beth Oppenheimer, executive director for the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. “We have a lot of work to do to ensure that every Idaho family has access to affordable, high-quality child care and early learning.”

Here are some additional findings from the 2017 report:

  • An estimated $28.9 billion in wages is lost annually by working families who do not have access to affordable child care and paid family and medical leave. 
  • Adjusted for inflation, U.S. businesses lose approximately $4.4 billion annually due to employee absenteeism as the result of child care breakdowns.
  • Families in the United States are overburdened by the high cost of child care. About 60 percent of funding for child care in the United States comes directly from parents. In comparison, families pay only about 23 percent of the cost of a public college education, with the remainder subsidized by state and federal funds.
  • Providers aren’t paid enough to cover the high costs of child care for their own kids. In every state plus the District of Columbia, the cost of center-based care for two children costs more than half of average child care provider income.
  • 65% of parents’ work schedules are affected by child care challenges an average of 7.5 times over a six-month period.

The nonprofit Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) is dedicated to advancing Idaho’s early learning profession and advocating for children and families. The organization was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Learn more at idahoaeyc.org.

Child Care Aware® of America is based in Arlington, Va. The organization’s mission is to advance a child care system that effectively serves all families; supports children’s growth, development and educational advancement; and creates positive economic impact for families and communities. Learn more at usa.childcareaware.org.

Should Idaho Accept the Gift of Technology for 4-year-olds?

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This past week, Superintendent Ybarra brought together education leaders to unveil a proposal that would bring a free technology program to Idaho for all 4-year-olds. The program, called SmartyAnts, was presented as a free product that would provide every 4-year-old in Idaho "early childhood education."

As the executive director of Idaho AEYC, I was invited to the presentation and was able to hear first-hand about the program. Following the presentation, I had the opportunity to speak to Idaho Ed News and share my thoughts. I encourage you to read the article here.

Idaho AEYC would like to remind our members that as your professional association, we are committed to advocating for high-quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood education. We are not interested in supporting a computer based, technology program as Idaho's only solution to early learning.

We would also like to share with you messaging, resources and NAEYC's position statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth to Age 8.

We encourage you to share your thoughts on the use of screen time for our youngest children and the use of technology as the only solution to early childhood education. We are currently collecting comments that we will share on behalf of our members.

In addition, we will be hosting a conference call on Thursday, Dec. 7th at 12:00 noon (MST) with Idaho AEYC members who are interested to discuss an action plan to move forward. Please mark your calendars and will will send out call-in information Monday.

As Idaho AEYC can and will continue to be a voice for you and high quality early childhood education, we also recognize that many of you, as experts in the field need to speak out. We will do everything we can to create opportunities for you to do so.

As always, feel free to contact me at any time.

Thank you for all you do for our youngest children and their families!

Sincerely,

Beth Oppenheimer
Executive Director
boppenheimer@idahoaeyc.org
208.345.1090

A Legacy of Education

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Last week, Idaho lost one of its biggest champions of Early Learning.

Governor Cecil D. Andrus, Idaho’s only four-term governor, spent many years advocating and fighting for high-quality early learning. He established part-time, voluntary kindergarten during his tenure which he has been known to say was his “top achievement” as governor.

I was fortunate to meet and get to know Gov. Andrus within my time here at Idaho AEYC.  We had many conversations about how to move preschool here and he was always willing to speak out in support of state investments.  In 2015, he offered to co-host a symposium called Early Learning in Idaho: Finding Common Ground.  He brought together non-partisan partners which included Boise State University Andrus Center for Public Policy, University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy and various members from organizations and the business community across Idaho who were interested in discussing solutions for investments in high quality early learning.

Idaho AEYC was fortunate to be at the table for the planning and participated in the symposium.  It was a wonderful event that really helped set the stage for large scale discussions across the state.

Every time I would see Gov. Andrus, he would smile a big smile, point his finger at me as he often did and say, “Beth, you keep fighting that fight for early childhood education! We need you to keep doing what you are doing and one day you will get it!”

Because no one would ever think to say “no” to Governor Andrus, that is exactly what we will continue to do. We will keep fighting for high quality early learning opportunities for all young children in Idaho. I’m sad that we won’t have his big voice as we continue down this path, but we will certainly have his spirit to help guide us towards success.

Beth Oppenheimer
Exectuive Director, Idaho AEYC

New Research Finds Parents and Early Childhood Educators Coming Together On a Unified Message to Invest in High-Quality Early Childhood Education

Parents and educators of all political beliefs support a system of shared responsibility to finance high-quality early childhood education that prioritizes investments in the profession

WASHINGTON, DC – Results from new research released today by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) identify opportunities to ensure that parents and early childhood educators are on the same side of defining and demanding high-quality early childhood education. This research, conducted by a bipartisan team of FM3 and Public Opinion Strategies, and generously supported by the Richard W. Goldman Family Foundation, explores three critical and interrelated issues:

How parents and educators think about quality in early childhood education;

How and whether their understanding of quality influences their choice of an early learning program, either as a place for their children to be cared for and educated, or as a place of employment; and

How their personal stake in the issue of early childhood education translates to their appetite and capacity for civic participation that advances the issue.

“We know that families and early childhood educators support each other, and share a commitment to ensuring the best for children,” said Rhian Evans Allvin, NAEYC’s CEO. “Yet our underfunded system means that families and educators can sometimes find themselves on different sides of issues related to the balance of affordability, quality, and compensation in early childhood education. NAEYC is proud to present new data that delves deeper into these complex and longstanding issues, offering important lessons on messaging and advocacy related to our collective work to advance the profession and deliver on the promise of high-quality early childhood education.”  

Research results show that both parents and educators themselves consistently put teachers and staff at the top of their definitions of quality. Nine out of ten educators and six out of ten parents agree that quality means having teachers who “inspire the kids” and promote positive social and emotional development. Parents also recognize the need to support the educators who are supporting their children: 76 percent of parents consider having teachers who are well-compensated as being extremely or very important in choosing an early learning program for their child.

“This research demonstrates that parents understand quality, need convenience, and are constrained by affordability in making their child care and early learning choices,” said researcher Dave Metz, of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, or FM3. “Across political persuasions, parents feel a primary responsibility for supporting the care for their own children, but also look to federal, state, and local governments to contribute their fair share in order to capitalize on the well-known public benefits of investing in high-quality early childhood education.”

The research also demonstrated that, based in part on their understanding of the need for increased public funding, educators and parents are willing to “get involved in the political process and advocate” for expanding access to high-quality early childhood education. For educators in particular, the strongest messaging to promote engagement comes around the growing awareness of the impact of early learning; the respect that voters have for early childhood educators; and the need for educators to advocate for themselves instead of letting others do it for them—the precise purpose and vision of the collective Power to the Profession initiative.

To view the full results of this survey, visit the Advancing the Profession: Market Research section of this webpage on Power to the Profession.

Methodology

This research was conducted by bipartisan team of FM3 (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R). The online educator survey included 1,654 NAEYC members who work as educators serving children from birth to age 8, conducted February 15-27, 2017, with the demographics of survey respondents meant to broadly represent the NAEYC membership. The online parent survey included 1,202 parents of children up to age 16, conducted October 17-24, 2016, and demographic quotas were set to reflect the diversity of American parents.

Children's Champions Update

Summer is a great time for relaxing, swimming, and catching up with friends and family; of course, it's also a great time for Congressional hearings, organizational resources, and new campaigns.

What is Congress up to these days?

There are two important hearings in the House of Representatives happening on Thursday, July 13:

1.      At 10:00 am, the House Education Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education is holding a hearing about "opportunities for state leadership of early childhood programs." You'll be able to watch it live here.

2.      Six and a half hours later, the FY2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill is scheduled to be marked up in subcommittee.

It's critical that the Appropriations Committee members hear from you!

·         Dial Senator Crapo: (202) 224-6142

·         Once you're connected, tell the staff person who answers the phone: "Hi, my name is _______ and I'm a constituent of Senator Crapo. I hope my Representative will support a significant increase in C-C-D-B-G, because child care is so important to helping children get the good start that they need, while helping their parents go to work. Thank you."

 

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Republican Senators are working on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, their proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that, by 2026, the bill will cause 22 million people to lose health coverage overall, including 15 million people losing Medicaid. A recent analysis found that would include over four million children.

We hope you will ask Senator Crapo (202) 224-6142 and Senator Risch (202) 224-2752 to #ProtectOurCare and reject cuts that are critical to our nation's support for our current and future workforce, and the health and well-being of the families, schools, and communities in which our children are cared for and educated.

Great Connections, Memories, Laughs and Learning

This past May, we had an amazing time at the Idaho AEYC Professional Development Institute!

Hundreds of early childhood professionals throughout Idaho had the opportunity to advance their education, professional learning and knowledge of high-quality early childhood education.

They also had the opportunity to make great connections and network with colleagues from across the state.

Our keynote speakers were incredible!

Rhian Evans Allvin, the CEO of NAEYC, inspired us to embrace early childhood education as a true profession.  Josh Hutchinson helped us to learn about the impact traumatic stress has on our youngest children. And finally, Dr. Drew, engaged us to recognize and practice the power of play in all early learning environments (see video).  I know that many of you left inspired and excited about the future of early learning in Idaho.

Here is what a few of you had to say:

     “The presenters were excellent!”

     “The conference was amazing and I appreciated the keynotes.”

     “The variety of workshops was great! Quality was great!”

     “Energizing! Very organized and professional!”

     “Practical and useful information I can take back to my classroom.”

In the field of early education, we know these opportunities are rare and only available when communities come together and support events such the Idaho AEYC Professional Development Institute.

Idaho AEYC is committed to advancing the early learning profession across Idaho. We are dedicated to providing the best professional development opportunities to our members and early childhood educators.

We will continue to advocate for children, families and the early childhood workforce. Our goals are big and our journey is long but we know that together, all children in Idaho will thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.

Thank you again for those of you who attended this year’s Professional Development Institute and for all the great connections, memories, laughs and learning that took place. (And for those of you who couldn’t attend, we hope to see you next year!)

To learn more about Idaho AEYC and the work we do on behalf of early learning on our Impact page.

Beth Oppenheimer
Exectuive Director, Idaho AEYC

 

Our Voices Matter

This Thursday, March 30, please raise yours by joining NAEYC, Child Care Aware of America, CLASP, NAFCC, NBCDI, NWLC, YWCA and ZERO TO THREE for a national call-in day for child care.

Every member of Congress has the opportunity to make funding requests during the appropriations process. There is an upcoming deadline for these requests, and while we're all working hard to demonstrate the need for overall discretionary funding levels that allow for sufficient investments in critical programs for children and families, we are also having a call-in day to focus specifically and especially on child care.

We hope you will join early childhood educators and advocates across the country in calling your Representatives on Thursday. You will ask them to ask the Appropriations Chairman to increase funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant by $1.4 billion in the FY 2018 appropriations bill.

Without this additional $1.4 billion, states will not be able to implement the important reforms contained in the CCDBG Act of 2014 while maintaining the current number of children served. Already, there has been a significant decline in the number of children served, with 373,100 fewer children receiving child care assistance in 2015 than in 2006. Congress needs to hear about the importance of funding a strong foundation for child care and early learning through CCDBG.         

Take Action!

Call 202-224-3121 for the Capitol Switchboard or find your representative here. Find the suggested script here.

And don't forget - if you need a boost to help you make that call, check out how to call your reps (when you have social anxiety) and learn why calling is better than emailing.  

Please join us on Thursday and make sure your elected official hears your voice, loud and clear! #powertotheprofession