Children with access to high-quality early learning programs enter school ready and eager to learn. But many Idaho kids are missing out on early education opportunities and have to play catch up from the start. At Early Learning Legislative Day on Wednesday, February 10th, supporters will bring attention to the issue of early learning through a film screening, a rally on the Capitol steps and presentations to the House and Senate Education Committees. There will also be an interactive BLOCK Fest for Idaho kids in the Capitol rotunda.
But with Idaho ranking 50th nationally in the number of 3 and 4 year-olds enrolled in pre-school and one of a very few state governments not to financially support early learning, advocates, teachers and other leaders see a need to bring more attention to the issue of early education.
“Opportunities to participate in a high-quality early learning programs do not exist for the majority of children in Idaho,” states Beth Oppenheimer, Idaho AEYC Executive Director. ”The science is clear that a child’s brain develops most rapidly between birth and age 5. These early years lay the foundation for future learning and development.”
Idaho Voices for Children’s Policy Analyst Alejandra T. Cerna Rios sees early learning as providing fiscal benefits to the state, particularly when it comes to kids who are struggling or disadvantaged. “Every dollar invested in early learning saves taxpayers between $7 and $13 down the road. The longer we wait to intervene, the more costly it is to remediate. But the biggest benefit of high-quality early education is, of course, the confident and eager learners.”
Early Learning Legislative Day kicks off on Tuesday, February 9th, with the screening of The Raising of America in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Capitol. All other events are on Wednesday, February 10th, beginning with the BLOCK Fest in the rotunda during the morning. The rally on the Capitol steps will take place at noon.
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