GARDEN CITY — The foundation for a strong education starts young. With no statewide regulations or requirements, cities across Idaho are left to figure out how to structure their own preschools, while not always having the teachers or the funding. Several communities across Idaho, including Garden City, are collaborating and making preschool the priority.
“We’ve been able to figure out how we want to structure a preschool here in garden city for children 4 and 5, and our goal is to get them ready for school before they begin in the following year," said executive director of Giraffe Laugh Lori Fascilla.
Garden City’s ‘Preschool the Idaho Way’ is one example of the work that fourteen different communities are tackling to create access to preschool through the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. Giraffe Laugh is spearheading the effort.
“They have really encompassed many of the pieces I would say are ideal when it comes to forming a collaborative, they’ve involved multiple stakeholders, they’ve really expanded the tents in terms of like whose involved with this work," said project director Martin Balben.
They've partnered with several different groups to form a coalition, including the Boys and Girls Club, Family Advocates, and Learning Lab.
There’s a need across the state for quality care, but there’s also a shortage of spaces for children in general.
“We have over 500 children on our waiting list," said Fascilla.
Coming up in October, implementation grants are coming out, which can help communities like Garden City start putting up walls for new preschools, or hiring more early childhood educators. The Garden City collaborative is planning to apply for one, to help create more spaces for those kids on the waiting list.