Close to 80 percent of Idaho voters and parents support state investment in preschool, according to a new statewide poll.
The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children presented the findings inside the Statehouse Wednesday.
Idaho is one of six states that does not invest in preschool options for families with children 3 to 5 years old.
The survey conducted by research firm Moore Information found roughly 80 percent of voters and parents agree there are three key benefits that result from early childhood education:
- Access to quality, affordable preschool options for Idaho families enhances their children's educational performance.
- Supporting quality, affordable preschool options for Idaho families is important to building the economy through a qualified and educated workforce.
- State funding for preschool programs results in direct returns for our state and communities -- the more we invest in preschool-age children, the more they give back later in life.
"The poll numbers were exciting to me because it shows me that the community knows what I know," said Kuna kindergarten teacher Alyssa Townsend. "It showed me that their concern is for kids coming in to kindergarten not prepared, that they understand that the early years, ages 0 to 5, are the most important."
The polling showed 22 percent of voters surveyed rate the quality of preschool opportunities in Idaho for children ages 3 to 5 years old as "excellent" or "above average", while 32 percent say these opportunities are only "average", and 24 percent say they are "below average" or "poor".
A bill to fund pre-k education has been in the works for years but has never received a hearing.
"The hope this year is that policymakers will look at this information... and say, 'Gosh, we need to start doing something'", said IDAEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer.