A plan for our youngest learners

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Idaho AEYC is a voice for our state’s youngest learners. Our number one strategic priority is high-quality early education, and our goal is for Idaho children from birth to age 8 to have equitable access to developmentally appropriate, quality programs.

For years, Idaho AEYC has advocated for state-funded, high-quality preschool. Idaho continues to be one of a handful of states that does not fund pre-K opportunities for all children, but recent surveys show that voters, parents and early childhood professionals would support such investment. A poll of 355 child care providers and early childhood professionals found that 92% would support state funding for preschool opportunities for Idaho children age 3 to 5. In addition, 76% of voters and 80% of parents with children age 0 to 5 support state investments for preschool.

Idaho AEYC has partnered with parents, lawmakers, the business community and other organizations to develop the Idaho School Readiness Act, which would provide state funding for preschool opportunities. The plan has been introduced to state policymakers but was not a priority this legislative session. Even so, we want you to be aware of the proposal and ways it would impact the early learning community.

The Idaho School Readiness Act is designed to provide voluntary resources to parents of young children, with both in-home and out-of-home options.

The voluntary in-home option would provide developmentally appropriate materials and training opportunities to help parents prepare their children for school.

The voluntary out-of-home option is based on a local collaborative preschool model and has several components: 

  • Communities would come together to create “collaboratives,” which could include local school districts, charter schools, child care programs, existing preschool programs, Head Start programs, local YMCAs, or any entity that would be able to offer a high-quality preschool program for 4-year-olds.
  • Each collaborative would select a lead partner to administer the project and apply to the state for funding. Once approved, Idaho would supply 50% of the funds, and the rest would come from the collaborative.
  • Local school districts, charter schools, for-profit and nonprofit programs could all qualify to become school readiness providers in the community and receive state and local funding if they meet the quality standards set by the State Board of Education and are aligned with Idaho’s Early Learning Guidelines.
  • A priority would be given to 4-year-olds from low-income families.

What does this mean for Idaho’s early childhood community?

  • It could allow for private child care and preschool programs to expand access and receive state funding to support their programs.
  • It could provide professional opportunities for early childhood professionals to work in a school district setting, which could advance compensation opportunities.
  • It could help better connect our early learning programs with K-12, ensuring for a better transition for our children.

Most importantly, state investment in preschool would give more Idaho children access to high-quality early education opportunities so they enter school ready to learn!