Preschool the Idaho Way


Launched in October 2018, Preschool the Idaho Way aims to develop high-quality, affordable preschool opportunities for families by equipping Idahoans with the tools and resources they need to create local solutions.


We are a coalition of diverse organizations and individuals that believe Idaho simply cannot wait any longer to invest in its future. Every Idaho child should have access to high-quality early learning programs, regardless of their family’s financial situation. By further educating communities on the value and importance of early learning, we will advance policy that demands investment in quality programs for all children.

Preschool the Idaho Way believes this investment is about the numbers. Investments in early learning programs for all of Idaho’s children will save taxpayers money and have far-reaching social impacts.


Idaho is one of only four states in the country that does not currently invest in public preschool options for families.

Working families can’t afford to pay any more, and it’s not fair for child care providers to make any less.

Preschool is a unifying issue. Both conservative and liberal states across the country have implemented state investments in preschool. Working families should never have to choose between putting food on the table and having a safe, affordable, high-quality early learning environment for their children.

The more we invest in preschool-age children now, the more they give back later in life.

Every $1 invested in quality, affordable preschool education saves taxpayers $7 to $13 in public education costs because children are less likely to repeat grades or require special education services.

Children who have access to quality preschool are more likely to graduate from high school, continue with higher education and have more earning ability. They are less likely to engage in criminal activity and therefore less likely to be a cost to the state correctional system later in life. In fact, many states use the number of children completing preschool to predict the number of prison cells that need to be built.

Too many Idaho children entering school lack the ability to hold a pencil, use scissors or recognize their name. Almost half cannot identify more than 11 letters in the alphabet.

Early childhood experiences and interactions can have a chemical or biological impact on a child’s developing brain.

Research shows that if a young child doesn’t have the right kinds of interactions in the first few years of life, the brain doesn’t build itself properly. High-quality preschool develops social and emotional skills that have positive, lifelong effects.


Preschool the Idaho Way will work with community-based programs such as Head Start, private in-home providers, for-profit and nonprofit child care centers, faith-based organizations and family child care providers to build partnerships with school districts and develop local early learning collaboratives. These collaboratives can address challenges they may face such as a lack of resources and expertise or an inability to meet the comprehensive needs of children and their families.

Local community programs following a collaborative model have emerged in largely populated urban centers and rural, sparsely populated areas alike. Across Idaho, private foundations, child care programs and others are joining forces to serve young families and maximize resources. These programs are succeeding in increasing access to high-quality early learning opportunities.

Coalition Members

Idaho AEYC is joined in this statewide effort by the following organizations:

Idaho Voices for Children

Idaho Business for Education

Idaho Library Association

Lee Pesky Learning Center

United Way of Treasure Valley

United Way of Southeastern Idaho

Parents as Teachers

Idaho Head Start Association

Idaho Head Start Collaboration Office

This work is generously funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan.