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Report: Eight is the Magic Number for Idaho’s Children

PHOTO: Eight is the magic number for Idaho’s children to succeed. A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes the case that Idaho needs to make investments in the first eight years of life to set kids on the path to success. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: Eight is the magic number for Idaho’s children to succeed. A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes the case that Idaho needs to make investments in the first eight years of life to set kids on the path to success. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
November 4, 2013

BOISE, Idaho - Eight is the magic number for Idaho's children to succeed. A report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes the case that investments need to be targeted to the first eight years of life to set kids on the path to success, especially if they live in low-income working families.

Lauren Necochea, Idaho Kids Count director, said for 60 percent of Idaho's children age 5 and under, all available parents are in the workforce.

"So while parents are working, we want our young children to be in a safe, nurturing environment where they can receive the stimulating interactions that will build a strong foundation so that they can succeed in school and in life," Necochea said.

The report's statistics show that 55 percent of Idaho's children age 8 and younger live in low-income households, and lower-income children are less likely to be on track educationally, socially and emotionally by age 8.

Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, said the good news is that decades of research show how to set children on the path to success. Parents need support and connections to programs that can help them, and Speer pointed out that quality early education has to be at the top of the list.

"Certainly, there are lots of things government can do - providing more access to high-quality child care programs for people who are low-income," Speer said.

An Idaho Democratic lawmaker from Boise, State Rep. Hy Kloc (D-16, Seat B), has proposed a pilot program to establish a high-quality state preschool system. The Casey report showcased state preschool programs in Oklahoma and Mississippi as examples for other states.

"The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success," is available at www.AECF.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID