Preschool the Idaho Way

Preschool students interact with a hands-on play station at the Downtown Boise YMCA, Wednesday, Oct. 10, after the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children announced the launch of the “Preschool the Idaho Way” initiative.

Fifteen Idaho communities are getting a boost to help develop community preschools with grants from the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children.

Grants range from $5,000 to $10,000 and will go toward expanding preschool opportunities for families in each area.

Idaho is one of only four states that doesn’t fund public preschool.

The Preschool the Idaho Way project will partner with schools and school districts to collaborate on resources such as space and teachers to offer early learning to 4- and 5-year olds.

In Canyon County, the association is partnering with the Nampa School District, Get Ready to Learn Kuna! and Treasures Playschool in Notus to lead the grant project in their communities.

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Beth Oppenheimer, director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, said the grants will support communities in developing preschool models individual to them.

“We know that communities are going to be different across the state, and that’s what we’ve seen from the grant requests,” Oppenheimer said. “Every community would do something different to tackle the problem of a lack of early education.”

The development grants — the first phase of the project — will help recipients plan who to involve and what a preschool would look like for them. A free, online toolkit helps with these questions.

Later this year, communities can apply for an implementation grant to get the process of building a school started. Communities who didn’t receive the first grant are still encouraged to apply for the next one.

Riley Bunch covers federal politics as well as education and social issues for the Idaho Press. Reach her at rbunch@idahopress.com or follow @rbunchIPT on Twitter.

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