A Global View of Idaho's Pre-K Debate

When states debate pre-K, they shouldn’t just look locally. Or even at other states.

They should look globally, says W. Steven Barnett, a national expert in pre-K.

They should consider why Shanghai, China, is creating universal pre-K for 4-year-olds, staffed by college-educated teachers. China is a poorer country that aspires to be a wealthy country, and its leaders see pre-K as part of the answer.

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!


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!


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?


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!


Beth Oppenheimer
Executive Director

A Legacy of Education


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.


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.

National Organization Provides Snapshots of Idaho Child Care Landscape

July 14, 2017 (Boise, ID) – Yesterday, Child Care Aware® of America released their 2017 State Fact Sheet outlining the use, supply, and cost of child care across all 50 states. The report finds Idaho has over 76,000 children, from birth to age 6, who are in need of child care across the state. These children come from households where both parents are in the work force or working single-parent families.