BOISE — Fourteen different communities across Idaho spent the past year working with the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children to prepare for high-quality preschool options. Currently, Idaho has no statewide requirements for preschool.
“When kids start off behind, they stay behind in a lot of cases because it takes a ton of resources to catch those kids up," said project director Martin Balben.
It’s called Preschool the Idaho Way, and through their planning grants, rural and urban communities create personalized plans on how to meet the needs in their areas.
"Across the state there are varying degrees of different economies and resource sand different degrees to which folks can pull these things together," said Balben.
Coming up in October, a new set of grants are coming: implementation grants. The grants help communities start creating the preschools that work best for them. The goal is to have 7-10 implementation grants of nearly $40,000 each. They’ll be open for all communities, beyond the 14 that received the previous grants.
“These are grants that should give the ability of folks who’ve gone through these processes to plan their preschools," said Balben, "Some resources to get their programs stood up and running, whether that’s paying for high-quality professionals who can come in and do a great job with children and families in the classroom, and also make sure those family programs are included which are absolutely vital to a high-quality preschool program.”