More Idaho child care programs close; financial support needed for teachers

Posted at 6:23 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 21:59:16-04

BOISE — Nampa Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten's lead teacher, Christine Silva, is using the problem-solving techniques she teaches her kids to figure out how to keep them learning. She came up with work packets and a zoom class.

"I try to have a routine just like we would at school, so we all join, we say hello to each other, we go through our daily songs and out poems," said owner Christine Silva.

At this point in an early learning program, kids might be making strides when it comes to reading. Silva says she has many kids right on the verge of reading and wants to maintain their success.

"During the morning work period when they're with me that they can read to me one and one, and we kind of keep going down that path," said Silva.

Thanks to a few parents willing to keep up tuition, she's been able to. It's not the ideal situation or learning environment, but Silva is making it work. However, not all programs have been able to keep funding. As of Friday, 279 childcare programs across the state are closed.

"We're looking at over 8500 children throughout Idaho have been affected by the closures of the childcare programs," said executive director for Idaho AEYC Beth Oppenheimer.

The biggest need is to get wages to working teachers.

"Idaho's economy can only rebound if the supports such as quality child care are in place and functional for hardworking families," said Oppenheimer.

Not only has the pandemic demonstrated how critical programs are to childrens' development and learning, but it's also shown it's a critical part of Idaho's economic backbone.

"Our child care system has been broken before this crisis, and if we continue to lose these programs and don't put priority and efforts into helping them reopen, it's going to be really hard for our hardworking families to get back to work," said Oppenheimer.

According to the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, the state will receive about $20 million through the child care development block grant, which contributes both to programs that are fighting to stay open and those that are closed, in an attempt to get them back up and running.