BOISE — With nearly $6 million in federal grant funding per year over the next three years, the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children and the State Board of Education will partner to continue the successful efforts to build a foundation for a better-connected early childhood system to prepare Idaho children for a successful start in school.

The federal Preschool Development Grant will significantly expand efforts to engage families, local communities, business partners, early childhood educators, schools, policymakers and others to build a mixed-delivery system for parents with young children, age’s birth to five, and work to improve school readiness outcomes with a focus on early literacy.

Since taking office in January 2019, Gov. Brad Little has prioritized early literacy. This grant will support Governor Little’s goal to strengthen young children’s language and literacy prior to starting kindergarten through localized efforts in communities throughout the state.

“Literacy continues to be my top priority in education and this resource ensures our youngest children have improved opportunities to stay on track with their reading so they are ready for school,” Little said.

“Every community throughout Idaho is unique, and the approach to investing in early learning must meet the needs of all Idahoans,” said association Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “By understanding the different choices and options that work for our families, we are better positioned to improve early learning outcomes and options that best fit each individual community’s needs.”

The State Board of Education and the association will utilize results from a statewide needs assessment conducted in 2020, which was funded with an initial $3 million Preschool Development Grant. The needs assessment identified gaps Idaho families face, including access to resources that best support their children. It also identified opportunities to strengthen the transition between early childhood programs and our K-12 system.

“On behalf of the State Board of Education, we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Idaho AEYC, along with other collaborators, for the development of a high-quality early childhood care and education system in Idaho,” said Debbie Critchfield, President of the Idaho State Board of Education. “Early childhood literacy is a priority area of concern and focus for the State Board of Education.  This federal grant is an opportunity to fortify local communities with resources to help families prepare their children to be ready to learn.”  

The grant will be implemented starting this month.

“This funding will make a meaningful difference as Idaho’s communities develop and implement early learning programs that are tailored to their individual needs,” Oppenheimer concluded.

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