BOISE — The demand for quality preschool is high, being as there are no state-wide direct investments in preschool. Preschool the Idaho Way is giving nearly half a million dollars in grants to get quality programs up and running.
"We realized there were a lot of communities that were just ready to take the leap and start figuring out these programs on a local level," said project director Martin Balben.
Earlier this year, communities received planning grants — to create personalized plans to improve their preschool programs — this is the next step in that process to implement the measures to getting programs up and going.
"We don't have any new buildings going up per se, but these are part of the creative solutions people are walking through," said Balben.
The bulk of the implementation grant money is going towards staffing the various programs, which can then potentially lead to more students accessing the programs.
"Were not afraid to say when you put the quality infrastructure together and well-trained professionals in a building you get the outcomes you want so were always going to have an eye on the student ratios and making sure were funding programs that have the appropriate amount of backing to succeed," said Balben, "
Ten different communities received implementation grants, totaling nearly half a million dollars by private funding from donors and the W.K. Kellog Foundation. The grants were open to any program in the state, but the majority of the recipients received the original planning grants as well.
"We had a couple of programs that received an implementation grant that hadn't gone through the planning process that were really model programs, I think there's two," said Balben.
Other programs are using the money towards classroom materials and improving their current infrastructure.
"We've had massive interest in these programs from all kinds of communities across the state, so I think in the future, we could be really a central point for helping folks build this infrastructure," said Balben.
Earlier this year, Idaho received a federal $3.3 million grant for early childhood education development.