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For Week of the Young Child, ID Advocates Want More Early Learning

Advocates for young children say investment from Idaho is crucial to make sure every child has access to early learning. (Brandi Nyhof/Idaho AEYC)
Advocates for young children say investment from Idaho is crucial to make sure every child has access to early learning. (Brandi Nyhof/Idaho AEYC)
April 21, 2017

BOISE, Idaho – Next week, Idahoans and people across the nation will celebrate the Week of the Young Child, dedicated to children and the importance of early learning.

Many advocates for the youngest Idahoans feel the state is lagging behind, as one of only six states that doesn't invest state dollars in preschool education.

Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, says that leaves many parents struggling to find quality and affordable child-care and preschool programs.

"It really puts our low-income and, most oftentimes, our middle-income families at a disadvantage because they don't have those opportunities that maybe some of our families that can afford those high-quality programs have," she explained.

Friday, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter proclaims next week the Week of the Young Child at City Hall at 11:30 A.M.

The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children kicks off the week on Saturday at the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise, from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. Admission to the garden is free and the day includes activities for children and resources for parents.

Although the legislative session passed without any legislation on early childhood education, lawmakers did convene an informational meeting in February.

Oppenheimer says there are a lot of lawmakers on board, and believes the state will invest in early learning for more children in the future.

"We know that this isn't an easy issue to fix, but we feel pretty confident that eventually, we are going to get there," she said. "And we're going to have a state that supports our youngest children and our families and have those opportunities for all children, and not just those that can afford it."

Each day from April 24-28 will feature a theme promoting the well-being of young children.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID